Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Movie Review: Before I Fall

The narrative convention of a protagonist repeating a day over and over has been done before but Ry Russo-Young's Before I Fall based on a novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver puts a new teenage twist on this plot. Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch) is trapped in the day of February 12th after dying in a car accident. This Friday, known as Cupid Day, starts off pretty normal with Samantha joining her best friend Lindsay (Halston Sage) for a commute to school after picking up the other two friends in their popular girl group Ally (Cynthy Wu) and Elody (Medalion Rahimi).

They exchange roses throughout the day and Samantha receives one from her secret crush Kent (Logan Miller) but also from her thoughtless boyfriend Rob (Kian Lawley). They hear about a party Kent is throwing and decide to go but not before sending insults towards Juliet (Elena Kampouris), a loner who likes to paint strange pictures. Each repetition of the life sees these encounters happening as Samantha works to discover the reason she is stuck in this time loop.

Desperate to escape the loop and suspecting that the reason for her daily repetition is the car accident, she convinces her group of friends to stay home for the night and avoid the party. She survives past the time that she normally died in the accident and woke up to the same morning but finds out that the unpopular Juliet has committed suicide. It is suspected that the death is due to her constant harassment by Lindsay and the gang. 

The movie jumps a little too quickly into a montage of the same day as Samantha's grow increasingly frustrated but viewers are unable to see all the different paths and choices she makes during this repetitive time. Eventually, she decides to lash out at everyone instead of being kind which leaves her ground by her parents and ostracized by her popular friends. It is only then that she discovers that Kent is the boy she should be chasing and that Juliet was only bullied by Lindsay because she was once friends with her.

The finale heads towards a predictable ending and offers some redemption from the protagonist but never explores the themes present in the plot too deeply. The film also takes a melancholic and gloomy approach to the repetition with the dreary rain-slicked Pacific Northwest setting instead of allowing Samantha to have a few days where she has a lot of fun. She does take the chance to bond with her family as she realizes being nice and appreciative might help her get out of this trouble. I thought it was a decent film, nothing spectacular but maybe worth a watch once. 

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