Before I Fall: Well-Acted, Delicate Teen Drama Explores Big Themes
Cynthy WuHalston Sage...
DramaMystery & Suspense
Based on the novel written by Lauren Oliver, teen-drama, Before I Fall, manages to squeeze in a few surprising turns, despite some of its conventionalities. Adapted to the screen by Maria Maggenti and brought to life by director Ry Russo-Young, the story takes on that infamous Groundhog Day formula and instils it with a surprisingly dark teen-movie twist, delivering a story that is both intriguing and moving.
Set in the Pacific Northwest, the story begins with high-school senior, Samantha Kingston (Deutch), awakening on February 12 at exactly 6.30AM to her favourite pop ballad. Before heading out the door to grab a ride with her friends, she manages to find time to ignore her parents and scold at her younger sister. It’s an exciting time for Samantha, who we soon learn is preparing to lose her virginity to her boyfriend Rob (Lawley) at the yearly ‘Cupid’s Day’ party thrown by Samantha’s former childhood friend, Kent (Miller) – a boy who is secretly in love with her – with her friends ensuring that she is fully equipped for the occasion.
Unfortunately, things don’t exactly pan out as the girls planned with Rob ending up drunk whilst the school outcast, Juliet (Kampouris), decides to publicly confront her bullies. A tragic turn of events soon follows when the girls find themselves caught in a deadly car accident, but instead of waking up in the hospital, Samantha finds herself waking up in her own bed, uninjured and confused. Caught in a bewildering time loop, Samantha soon finds herself reliving the same day over and over again; a course of action which soon forces the teenager to look deep within herself in the hopes of finding a way out.
Leading with a strong performance, Zoey Deutch shows impressive versatility and offers plenty of emotional range to rally the audiences into her corner. Her doomed fate and the horrors behind the idea of having to relive the same day all over again is portrayed with outmost sensitivity and despite being portrayed as a bully from the start – a seemingly refreshing feature of the film – it’s relatively easy to root for her.
Polished with a soft atmosphere, the movie, although not free from the usual teen-movie trappings manages to do just enough to rise above the use of pop tunes, trivial high-school dilemmas and an unsurprisingly pretty cast. In fact, it offers a credible and intriguing story of consequences and life lessons learned in one girl’s journey for self-discovery and redemption. Is it groundbreaking? No. Is it entertaining? Indeed.