The much-loved indie films Before Sunrise and Before Sunset followed the unfolding romance between American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Frenchwoman Celine (Julie Delpy) as they walked and talked their way around Vienna and Paris. This sequel catches up with the charismatic couple on holiday in Greece, some 18 years after their first meeting on a train. Now middle-aged parents to twin girls, domesticity has replaced the carefree spontaneity of the first two films, but fans of director Richard Linklater’s honest, witty and insightful take on romance won’t be disappointed.
The third chapter of this meandering love story finds Jesse and Celine staying with a writer friend in the southern Peloponnese. Much of the filming took place in and around Kardamili on the Mani peninsula. Despite its beautiful setting on the Gulf of Messenia, the village has been largely overlooked by package holiday crowds, attracting instead a mix of walkers, artists and writers, including the British travel writer and war hero Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, who made his home in the hills above Kalamitsi Bay. His charming house, which he bequeathed to the Benaki Museum in Athens on his death in 2011, appears in the film as a rustic writers’ retreat. There are plans to reopen the house for just such a purpose in real life too, in accordance with Fermor’s last wishes, but it’s currently closed to the public.
Dioskouroi Taverna, with its tables set under the pine trees, was a favourite hang-out of Fermor and, more recently, the film’s crew. Come here for fresh fish and spectacular sunset views across the bay.
Scenes were also shot at Pylos, which is famous for the ruins of the Mycenaean Palace of Nestor, and Koroni, a tiny port village overlooked by a Venetian castle. Greece always looks fantastic on film and local businesses are no doubt hoping that Before Midnight will do for the Mani peninsula what Mamma Mia did for the island of Skiathos.
Where to stay
Costa Navarino (costanavarino.com) is a sprawling, luxury resort in Messenia comprising two five-star hotels, spa, thalassotherapy centre and golf courses. Ethan Hawke stayed at one of the hotels, the Westin; (www.westincostanavarino.com; doubles from €240), during filming and the property is also seen on screen, when Jesse and Celine escape to a smart seafront hotel for the night. The room they used, redecorated for the film, has been christened the Before Midnight suite and is open to guests.
Specialist tour operator Sunvil (www.sunvil.co.uk) has been offering holidays to the Mani peninsula for more than 20 years, with accommodation in characterful family-run hotels, such as the Kyrimai; (www.kyrimai.gr; doubles from €100) in the sleepy backwater of Gerolimenas. A converted 19th-century stone warehouse perched on the water’s edge, this rustic hotel is renowned for its food and sea views.
‘Before Midnight’ is released on May 24 in the US, and across Europe in June