Review: Before I Fall

Before I Fall
6 10
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PLOT: A popular teenager (Zoey Deutch) is doomed to relive the same, deadly, day over and over again when her and her friends, after bullying the school outcast, seemingly perish in a car accident.

REVIEW: Based on the YA novel by Lauren Oliver, BEFORE I FALL takes the GROUNDHOG DAY formula, in which a selfish protagonist is forced to relive the same day over-and-over, and gives it a dark, teen-movie spin. While it mostly follows the conventions of the genre, and is saddled with too much voiceover, the film is redeemed by a good performance from star Zoey Deutch and an atypical ending which gives it a little more bite than expected.

before i fall zoey deutch

Deutch is among the more impressive up-and-comers, coming off her turn in Richard Linklater’s EVERYBODY WANTS SOME (although she also showed promise in the enjoyably awful VAMPIRE ACADEMY). BEFORE I FALL is her show all the way, and director Ry Russo-Young, best known for her Sundance entry NOBODY WALKS, gives her room to craft a strong, three-dimensional turn as a not-always-likable heroine.

Even if the movie itself plays by all the teen movie hallmarks, with its uniformly attractive cast and pop song-filled soundtrack, only a director like Russo-Young would have allowed her heroine to start the film as such a bully. Something would have been thrown in where Deutch was shown to disapprove of the way they treat the school’s troubled misfit (Elena Kampouris) and another gay student (Liv Hewson). They don’t do that here –quite daring for a teen flick.

Even stranger, but maybe believable due to the nature of her character, is how long it takes Deutch to catch-on to the fact that maybe her being doomed to repeat the day has something to do with her bad actions. As it goes on, Deutch becomes more introspective and relatable, with quiet scenes such as one where she’s confronted by Hewson’s character standing out. There’s a message wrapped-up in here about bullying, and how the consequences can ruin lives – making BEFORE I FALL more socially apt than the typical teen movie. Still, the insane privilege the characters live-in (mansions, pool houses, designer clothes, etc), which is typical of the genre, may keep audiences from sympathizing too much with Deutch and her friends’s plight.

before i fall zoey deutch

As the movie settles into a groove, it becomes familiar, but GROUNDHOG DAY isn’t copied too badly, with it opting for a grim tone over levity. Deutch is the anchor throughout, making the character’s evolution feel real, to the point that the conclusion hits harder than expected. The supporting cast is hit and miss, with YouTube star Kian Lawley, as Deutch’s boyfriend, too transparent a meat-head, although Logan Miller is likable as the sensitive rival to her affections, while Jennifer Beals has a nice bit as Deutch’s mom.

Even though I’m not quite sure BEFORE I FALL deserved the Sundance berth it received back in January, as far as mainstream teen programmers go, it’s not half bad. It doesn’t reinvent the genre, but it’ll definitely entertain and engage its teen audience, and the anti-bullying message, especially in our era of anonymous cyberbullying, hits home.

Source: JoBlo.com



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