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Before I Fall (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 20, 2020

Before I Fall

Before I Fall


Starring Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Cynthy Wu, Medalion Rahimi, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Elena Kampouris, Diego Boneta, Jennifer Beals, Liv Hewson, Alyssa Lynch, Nicholas Lea, Erica Tremblay, Roan Curtis, Liam Hall, Claire Corlett, Anthony Stephens and Bal Nagra.

Screenplay by Maria Maggenti.

Directed by Ry Russo-Young.

Distributed by Open Road Films.  100 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

I’m not sure the world has been waiting with bated breath for a stylistic mash-up of the young adult chills and angst of Pretty Little Liars and a laugh-free variation of the “reliving-the-same-day-over-and-over” premise of Groundhog Day.  However, into that previously unrealized void, here is Before I Fall to show the world what it was missing, even if it didn’t realize that it was really needed in the first place.

Then again, the film is based on Lauren Oliver’s best-selling YA novel of the same name, so maybe some people did know.

And you know what?  It actually kinda works.  Before I Fall is not a near-perfect film like Groundhog Day was, but the basic idea is still a very fertile premise which succeeds surprisingly well in a teen chiller format.

Before I Fall tells the story of Sam Kingston (Zoey Deutch of Everybody Wants Some!!), the #2 in command in her local high school’s mean girls clique.  She keeps reliving a single day of her life.  She wakes up early in the morning on February 12 (which her high school has dubbed “Cupid’s Day”), hangs out with her bitchy friends, fights with her parents and little sister, talks about losing her virginity, teases kids in school, goes to a huge party, gets into a fight, drives off into the woods with her friends, where they get into a horrible car crash….

And she wakes up again, the morning before, having to relive the day over and over again until she gets it right and time can continue forward.

She tries doing different things – skipping the party, not teasing the class loser, giving the time of day to the cute guy who obviously has a crush on her – but nothing seems to work.  She also tries changing the way she acts – from bitchy to sickly sweet.  And finally, through reliving the day, she comes to find out how to be a nicer person and care about other people’s problems.

Only then will the world be able to move forward.

Deutch is as effortlessly likable as she was in Everybody Wants Some!!, this despite the fact that her character starts out as a bit of a bitch.  Her best friends also become deeper than the Heathers archetypes they start out to be.  It is a mystery that unfolds slowly, but it is rather fascinating all the variations that can be fit in.

In the end Before I Fall is seriously more dramatic and darker than its inspiration.  It is also rather scary in parts, in sort of a YA type of way.  The film is also bolstered by strong performances by mostly little-known cast (Sam’s mother is played by Jennifer Beals, who is as close to mainstream Hollywood as this film gets).

In theory, Before I Fall seems like an odd mixture of ingredients, but it’s rather surprising how well the recipe works out.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: March 3, 2017.

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