There is a lovely scene from the Before trilogy in Before Midnight (2013) where couples of different generations are gathered together in a Greek villa for dinner. As they toast, an elderly friend of the main characters, Jesse and Celine, speaks of his late wife, “We were never one person,” he tells the young couple, “always two.” Like sharing a secret code to everlasting relationships, Jesse and Celine’s friend broke it down simply: the journey of self-discovery and romance is to be experienced parallel to one another, but never as one. Your journey is uniquely yours.
These words of advice both summarize and foreshadow the couple’s long journey in their relationship. With three films showing different phases, stemming from fiery passion to the aftermath of settling down with two children, the Before trilogy paints a picture of a modern relationship and the questions we ask along the way.
However, it doesn’t fully resolve the burning question of what it takes for a relationship to become everlasting. In Before Sunset, the second film of the Before saga, Celine ponders the validity of loyalty in a romantic relationship. “There’s got to be something more to love than commitment,” she says as she and Jesse stroll the streets of Paris.