Before Midnight review: Love conquers all. Or mostly all.

Last week, I was treated to a sneak preview of Before Midnight, the newest movie in the popular now-trilogy starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. If you’re like me, you won’t believe it’s been 18 years since they first met in Before Sunrise, then met again in Before Sunset. 18 years, people! 


Before Midnight review on Cool Mom Picks

As Hawke, Delpy, and director Richard Linklater discussed at the preview I attended, the hope is that each movie stands on its own, even though I’m hardpressed to find friends who haven’t seen at least one of these come-of-age movies. 

Fan or not, if you’re curious whether to catch Before Midnight, I’ve got the scoop. 

As Before Midnight opens with Ethan Hawke’s character Jesse dropping his now near-teenage son off at the airport, you realize how much has happened since the Before Sunset, which left many questions unanswered –will he leave Paris and return home to his wife and kids? Or will he stay with Celine?

The question is quickly answered as he exits the airport to be greeted by Celine and his sleeping twin daughters in the back of the car, the family enjoying the last few days of a long vacation in Greece with friends which includes an overnight at a hotel alone without their children, the main focus of the movie. 

Julie Delpy, Richard Linklater, Kathryn Tucker, Ethan Hawke Before Midnight Preview

[Q and A with Julie Delpy, Richard Linklater, Kathryn Tucker, and Ethan Hawke]

Like the rest of the trilogy, Before Midnight is dialog heavy, though I found myself laughing (and crying) harder than I ever did ever before–a result of Hawke and Delpy’s exquisite writing and performances. But also because their own experiences, as previously far-fetched and fairy-tale like as they may have been (a chance meeting on a train!), are now brought down to the reality of monogamous adult life with kids, that I’m quite so many of us who now have kids can certainly relate to. 

If there’s any critique of this film, it’s that the issues and challenges that the couple face are a bit cliché. Celine struggles with the loss of her sense of self after having kids. The couple feels like they’re pulling apart rathering than coming together when they need each most. Sound familiar? 

Still, it is that exact familiarity that makes Before Midnight so powerful, because you inevitably see aspects of your own life in there.

And as much as I want to say that Hawke and Delpy’s wish for this to be a strong standalone film has come true, I really think you’ll find a deeper, more meaningful enjoyment of the story and artistry if you watch the previous films first. 

If you’re like me, you’ll leave the theater feeling a little more normal and much more hopeful that true love can endure and happily ever afters do exist–even if theyr’e a bit messier than you might have expected. -Kristen

Before Midnight opens tomorrow in NYC, LA, and Austin tomorrow, May 24. Then coming soon nationwide. Thanks to RedRover for the sneak preview. 

And don’t miss Ethan Hawke’s favorite app (it’s a good one) that he shared with us for Cool Mom Tech.

[Photo credit: Chae Kihn]


Kristen is CEO/Co-Founder of Cool Mom Picks and a busy mom of four kids who lives in the Philly 'burbs. Though really, what mom isn't busy?

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