Before I Fall (2017)
Critic Consensus: Before I Fall's familiar ingredients are enlivened by a fresh YA perspective and a strong performance from emerging star Zoey Deutch.
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Critic Reviews for Before I Fall
Director Ry Russo-Young seems genuinely interested in tapping into these characters and reminding us what fresh hell adolescence brings each day, but the material resists her.
There's little that the director, Ry Russo-Young, can do with the material's sentimental thinness, but she does something nonetheless ...
Being spineless is its own form of evil, yet Russo-Young makes Samantha such a languid, lovely waif that you forgive her as soon as she smiles.
Deutch's naturalistic performance grounds the various layers of the story in a manner that keeps it from becoming either boring or wildly unrealistic.
It takes a mediocre movie like Before I Fall to illustrate how brilliant Harold Ramis' Groundhog Day is.
Audience Reviews for Before I Fall
Loved it. Sad, but beautiful movie. I also read and loved the book many years ago. I also didn't realize the actress is Lea Thompson's daughter. That explains why she looked so familiar to me! I loved Lea's movies in the 80's, her daughter has a similar presence onscreen.
Finding one's moral compass is a favorite movie theme. A high school student takes that journey just like Bill Murray did in Ground Hog Day by re-living the same day over and over. The film misses some beats along the way, but always finds its direction and delivers. Performances by young cast are excellent.
DIE. RINSE. REPEAT. - My Review of BEFORE I FALL (2 1/2 Stars) Let's rip this bandaid off right away. I am not even remotely close to being the target audience for director Ry Russo-Young's BEFORE I FALL, with a screenplay by Maria Magenta (the excellent The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love) based on the Young Adult novel by Lauren Oliver. Unless you're a teenager with a few life lessons to learn or if you're currently raising one, then watch GROUNDHOG DAY or EDGE OF TOMORROW again, which this film loosely resembles, except without the respective humor or excitement. Zooey Deutch, so winning in EVERYBODY WANTS SOME and daughter to Lea Thompson and director Howard Deutch (PRETTY IN PINK), plays Sam, who has a seemingly perfect life. She wakes up in her incredible suburban home, greets her gorgeous mom (Jennifer Beals), kind father (Nicholos Lea) and adorable little sister, played by Erica Tremblay, whose brother Jacob starred in ROOM. Those Tremblays are forming a dynasty and nobody's talking about it!! She carpools to school with her BFFs, all of whom love to sway their heads to the latest rap tracks while talking about boys, sex, and sex with boys. You see, they're all caught up in Cupid Day, some nonsensical ritual which takes place two days before Valentine's Day wherein roses get passed out by "student angels" to the most popular girls in school. Jesus, YA writers! Isn't high school torture enough without having to make up some fake event to give kids even more anxiety???!!! Cracks soon show in Sam's seemingly happy-go-lucky clique when they pick on the "weird" student, Juliet (Elena Kampouris, who must, must be the missing Fanning child, right?). You know she's a pariah because she has unkempt hair and wears really big sweaters. And just like that, Sam and her friends go from being horny, self-absorbed, selfie-obsessed narcissists to the MEANEST of the MEAN GIRLS. On their way home from a party in which they and their fellow students make out, puke, and further humiliate poor Juliet, Sam and her friends get into a terrible accident. Sam dies and wakes up on the very same morning as at the beginning of the film, forced to relive this fateful day over and over again. Can she prevent the accident from happening? What needs to change? The bulk of this silly yet very well-made film tries to answer those questions. Shot in British Columbia by cinematographer Michael Fimognari, the film looks gorgeous as the camera whirls and swirls around and editor Joe Landauer does his best to keep things humming along despite the repetitive nature of the story. Tonally, the film reminds me of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, but what's missing is passion, depth and complexity. You see, rather than finding a way to overcome mental illness and stake your claim in this world like its predecessor did so wonderfully, BEFORE I FALL settles for trite Hallmark sentiments such as "Smile more" or "Be a little nicer, you garbage person!" In MEAN GIRLS and HEATHERS, you loved to hate those kids. Here, you just kinda hate them. It's no fault of the actors. Deutch has an adorable self-possessed nature that cuts through despite her character's hideous flaws. Her second in command, played by Halston Sage, has a sly mouth and sexy energy that feels like the end result of Gina Gershon licking Rachel McAdams up and down. She;'s a total star in the making. She and Deutch both transcend the severe limitations of their roles and display a sweet naturalism together. Logan Miller (THE WALKING DEAD, TAKE ME TO THE RIVER) also brings a nice warmth to his role as the perfect guy that Sam keeps snubbing. Russo-Young tries hard to achieve a style reminiscent of Fiona Apple's "Criminal" video, especially when our BFFs all cuddle together at the party. There's a hypnotic grace to her work which merits further attention. In the end, I was somewhat touched by the surprise twist and Deutch's ability to make you feel something just by the quality of her close-ups. It's not enough to make this trifle more than what it is, but we're very likely to see bigger and better things from Russo-Young, Deutch and Sage.
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