Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Before I Fall Movie: Ry Russo-Young's Coming of Age Thriller Evolves From Horrendous to Engrossing with a Noteworthy Performance by Zoey Deutch


I will be honest. I went into BEFORE I FALL with extremely low expectations. Based off of Lauren Oliver’s novel of the same name, the film had an absolutely horrendous marketing campaign with an anything but climatic trailer and little to no promoting commercials or billboards. But, quite truthfully, I was pleasantly surprised by Ry Russo-Young’s BEFORE I FALL.  After I snuggled into my purple socks and snapped open the snuck-in can of Dr. Pepper, I settled into my seat in the dead center of the theater. There were only two other women in the theater, and each of us was spread out far enough to not even be in the same eye sight as the other two. The opening credits started to roll, opening with loud pop-rock over beautiful scenes of the pacific northwest. BEFORE I FALL follows a high-school girl named Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch), a popular girl that is part of a MEAN GIRLS-esque clique, and her life on February 12 aka “Cupid Day.” At her school, students anonymously send each other roses, and the girls with the most roses are the most popular ones. As the day progresses, Samantha and her friends gossip, pick on a “crazy” girl named Juliet, prepare to swipe their V-cards, and go to party. The twist? Samantha and her friends are in a horrible car accident on their way home from the party, essentially halting time for Samantha as she is forced to relive Cupid Day over and over again GROUNDHOG DAY style.

The first half hour of this film was absolute trash. The acting was horrible, and I could not seem to get over the fact that no high schooler has this kind of over-active sex drive, the maturity of a fifth grader, and access to high quality beer. There is just no way. It also irked me how Samantha and her friends treated the social outcast, Juliet. It seemed as overdone as the turkey I left in the oven this Thanksgiving. As the film progressed, I started to realize that every high school has that one kid who everyone picks on relentlessly. There is no rhyme or reason, but, for some reason, this person is branded by students and teachers a like as a psychotic time bomb, emotionally traumatizing this student for the rest of their lives. I felt myself thinking about that one student at my high school and what I would have done if I saw him at one of our parties. That is when the film started to hook me.

Deutch turned her half-hearted, barely-believable performance into a stunning screen-grabber. As she experienced fear, sadness, and frustration, Deutch would add much needed depth to Samantha. It was stunning to watch. Furthermore, the directing by Russo-Young followed a similar progression. By half way through, the film had me hooked, and I could not believe that I was watching the same movie that I originally walked into.

It takes a female to understand a female or that is what I was taught in a college course called “Women in Film.” With a female writer, director, and lead it was very clear that the male producers wanted to get it right. You can literally feel the female touch throughout the film, and, for that, I commend every person involved in the film. In a time where this kind of representation is rare, I was quite inspired by the female power presented in BEFORE I FALL. It managed to make me look at myself and how I was living my life, who I was letting in, and what poor decisions I have continued to make. The message of the film is simple: make a change because you do not want to get stuck living the same day over and over again.

Would I go see BEFORE I FALL again? Yeah, if someone asked. Will I shout about it from the rooftops? No, but it was definitely worth watching.    
                                                                                                                                                             All photos property of  Before I Fall from Internet


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