I loved Richard Linklater's third Jesse & Celine film, Before Midnight. Yes, I also loved Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004). The films stand on their own and cohere as a beautiful trilogy visiting a couple's relationship as it evolves and endures over two decades. The two actors (Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy, who share screenwriting credit with Linklater) are certainly attractive in each film, aging appropriately (and hardly old in their early 40s!), and the setting of this last, a Greek island, in addition to its beauty, offers metaphoric touchstones with its ancient ruins and its remove from either character's origins. These are all "talky" films, but Before Midnight's conversation engages the viewer and compels further thought post-screening. Although not a part of such a couple, I could relate to their perspectives as a human only about a decade older, and as one in relationship with friends for as long, and with my brother for even longer. The film elicited chuckles of recognition, for sure – and a surprising amount of silent talking back to Celine, aligning with my countryman rather than my gender-mate.
When I saw Before Sunrise, did I imagine these two reuniting? Probably, romantic that I'd have been. When they parted at Before Sunset's end, did I see them making a life together? Possibly; I can't recall, but I was glad for their having shared one more day. Do I want to see a fourth film? I don't think so, but I will if they make one. For now, I'm content to believe Jesse & Celine will raise their girls in one country or another, do good work in the world, and grow old together.