Based on the bestselling novel by Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall follows Samantha Kingston, a teenage girl who’s part of the in crowd, as she goes about her day that would turn out to be her last. As her and her girlfriends leave a party, they get into an accident on the road. To her complete shock, Sam wakes up with a start in her own bed, reliving the day all over again. Day after same day, Sam tries to change the course of a seemingly unavoidable end every night.
Before I Fall feels like a less-comedic, more-dramatic Groundhog Day. Similar to the 1993 Bill Murray movie, the protagonist is forced to relive the same day over and over again with often-maddening frustration. I hadn’t had a chance to read the book yet so I don’t have that element to compare in this review. Purely looking at the film alone, I really enjoyed the story. I loved how they addressed the bullying and the butterfly effect, where one seemingly innocuous thing could result in a cataclysmic outcome. Within all the iterations of the same day passing, Sam goes through a journey of self awareness in which she is able to take a look at the lives that they are leading and the lives that they are affecting.
That aspect, especially, feels extremely important and poignant given the ongoing bullying that unfortunately still continues to happen everywhere. While this book was originally published in 2010, I can only begin to imagine the extent that bullying in schools has gotten to given the rise of all social media platforms. So many of us were probably bullied when we were in school but I am thankful that the Internet was only a mere blip at that time. The movie takes into account the modern day technology, with phones and Snapchat, giving a heightened level of tension among the mean girls and their prey.
Understanding that while many adults do read young adult, the demographic that this movie is geared towards is most likely not me. Setting aside the way that the girls coo at each other (which, I was nicely reminded, is how some teenagers talk these days :P), I still found some of the dialogue to be pretty cheesy. I’m not referring to them sounding young and me not getting that, but actual hokey cheese. There were a number of moments where I eye-rolled in the dark theatre at the preposterous words that were being exchanged between characters.
That being said, I still really liked the movie. I found Zoey Deutsch’s acting to be subtle but stoic. She had a quiet way of commanding the scene especially given that a lot of her scenes are self reflection. (She sure does like to run her hands through her hair in exasperation a lot though). I like the subtle changes in the way she looks at the other characters, which signals the slightest shift in perspective. The overall premise of the movie is not necessarily a new one. Illustrating what one would do differently if they knew it was their last day on Earth has been tackled before by many, but I really enjoyed this modern take. I truly hope that this story will affect at least a few people, if not oneself, to reevaluate who they are and how they treat the people around them.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5 stars)
Thank you to Harper Collins Canada and Indigo for the advanced screening tickets!