Imagine if Richard Linklater’s three Before films were all rolled into one movie and you’d have Two for the Road. The 1967 comedy isn’t as good as any of those films—Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight—but it is at times an equally incisive look at the way time can be a relationship’s worst enemy. Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney play Mark and Joanna Wallace, whom we first meet in early middle age while they’re traveling in France on one of Mark’s business trips. Between the silence and sharpness we can tell they’re not in a good spot. From there the film, written by Frederic Raphael and directed by Stanley Donen, begins hopping around earlier eras in their shared life—from the first time they met as vagabonds traversing France to a trip they once took across the country with another couple to other instances when they traveled to the country for Mark‘s work. The elaborate structure is deftly handled, managed with clever edits, match cuts, and recurring visual motifs. (The various cars they travel in function as time stamps, and there are sneaky moments where a car from one era is followed by a car from another era in the same take.) Elsewhere, though, Donen gets too clever; given his maddening insistence on manic zooms and swerving swish pans, you have to wonder if he wished he were making another musical and was employing such techniques as an aesthetic substitute. Henry Mancini’s melodramatic music is another distraction and nothing like the bubbly songs he brought to Donen’s Charade. As for the two leads, they have charm to spare, and it’s startling to see Hepburn bring bitterness to bear on her trademark wit, but the relationship and all its foibles still feel prescribed by the overall structure, not borne of real life. When it comes to dissecting the intricacies of long-term relationships, I prefer the improvisational elegance of Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.