Richard Linklater’s films, Before Sunrise (1994) and Before Sunset (2004), are companion pieces which follow an American man and a young French woman, who meet on a train, have a brief, intense romance in Vienna, and reunite in Paris 10 years later. Before Midnight is Linklater’s  most recent development to the storyline, written in collaboration with stars Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, and it redefines the sequence as a saga.

Before Midnight functions as a response to the ambiguous ending of Before Sunset. Main characters Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) are now married with children, and on holiday in Greece. Like its predecessors, the film is composed mostly of fluid takes of the characters’ dialogue, which constitute entire scenes. Their life together  takes place in our current age, in which the two appear significantly older — despite their competent use of the iPhone.

The novelty of this installment is both in its insight into Jesse and Celine’s long-term relationship, as well as  the foreign environment in which the movie is set, which gives the two characters an opportunity to reflect on their life together. Furthermore, in the other films,   the audience is aware of a “deadline” that implies the characters’ imminent separation. But this “deadline” is much less apparent in Before Midnight than in the previous installments in the series, contributing to an ominous feeling that lasts throughout the film. This ominousness is evident in conversations that are less conceptual and more personal than in previous films — from in-depth discussions about the imminence of death to ravenous, climactic fighting in a hotel room.

Perhaps the most representative scene in the film shows  Jesse and Celine watching the sun fall behind the Grecian horizon, with Celine repeating, “still there” until the moment the sun disappears. The scene expresses the theme of transience that is present in all of the films: the conflict between the desperate desire to hang onto a person and  the melancholic fleetingness of life with them.