Before Sunrise is a good movie -- although at first glance it may seem like your typical romance, there are moments in there that hit deep and the ending is deliciously ambiguous. Before Sunset is my favorite of the trilogy -- it's beautiful. A more mature look at love and relationships, appropriate since the couple has matured since then, shot in an incredible 15 days, all at a sort of golden half-light since Linklater wanted the film to have a real quality and therefore only filmed at a certain type of day. And it's shot in real time. The whole movie is basically a conversation between two people. Before Midnight is not as good as Before Sunset perhaps, but it's still incandescent.
I think this movie really gives you more if you've traveled with Jesse and Celine from the first two movies and can see where they're coming from. You can see that all the issues that were so prevalent in the first movie haven't magically gone away, but that they're very present and real in the third movie even though we've almost come two decades. As Celine says at one point, maybe humans can't evolve as much as they want to. Maybe they just end up staying the same.
Some of this is wonderful, some of it is painful, but unlike so much of cinema today, it all feels genuine and unforced. Other than a few useless close-up cuts, the way Linklater shoots this movie makes us feel as if we're being taken into confidence in this world, rather than being mere spectators.
On a final note, I was able to see this movie at Seattle's Egyptian Theater, which closes its doors for the last time today. I tried to take a couple levitation shots at the end of the showing and no one said anything, although the manager and an employee came down to watch me. But after a couple of pictures, I heard that manager ask the employee: "Do you know her?" And when the employee answered with a negative and a sort of: "I don't know what she's doing...", I gathered up my stuff and slunk quietly out the side exit. Goodbye, Egyptian! You will be missed.