Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are back for the third time in eighteen years... older but not necessarily wiser. After bidding a difficult farewell to his son, who now lives with his bitter ex-wife, Jesse (Hawke) heads back to the Greek island holiday home he's sharing with partner Celine (Delpy) and their twin daughters. Their generous hosts have booked them into a hotel for a romantic night.... but it turns into a tortured examination of where they stand emotionally. True and honest, director Richard Linklater has pulled off the enviable feat of making his two lovers just as compelling as they were almost two decades ago.
Athina Rachel Tsangari
For those who witnessed Jesse and Celine's tentative getting together as inter-railing students almost twenty years ago, it's reassuring to see them still in love.
However, this third pairing of Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke sees their youthful joie de vivre replaced by grown-up concerns - Jesse's rarely-seen son, Celine's challenging new job and the all-consuming responsibility of bringing up twin daughters.
They're at the end of a six-week family holiday in the Greek islands. Jesse is strung out after packing off his son to Chicago, where he lives with his poisonous ex-wife, Celine is fretting about taking on a new job...and suspects Jesse might be considering moving to be near his boy.
Joining their hosts for boozy, al fresco dinner, the mood is light and witty - speculation about human connection in the age of Skype and the eternal conundrum of "men are from Mars, women are from Venus".
However, the mood darkens when Celine and Jesse head off for a romantic night at a local hotel. At first the witty walk-and-talk dynamic of the earlier movies is repeated...and then sniping recriminations about perceived insults give may to the sort of row that would test even the strongest relationship.
Scripted by Linklater, Delpy and Hawke, this is the sort of agonising dialogue that has you reluctantly nodding in fraught recognition and being snared by a spitefully calculated gibe - she is, apparently, "mayor of crazytown"
Structured into four extended dialogue-led set pieces, all of them work in different ways but also fuse into a satisfying whole.
Let's just hope they're still together for the fourth film.