Ever since Barry Jenkins, the director of 2016’s Moonlight, announced on Twitter that this film was worth checking out, I was more than excited to see it. So I was naturally disappointed when the film didn’t get a release date in my country. We only tend to get big budget blockbusters in theaters and sometimes trailers for independent movies, with at times a release date, but who’ll eventually never be released over here. I’m looking at you, Free Fire. But on my way back from my trip to America to see the solar eclipse, I was surprised to find Before I Fall in the list of offered movies. Without a doubt, I clicked play to see the film, and was it worth the wait and Barry Jenkins’ praise?
Before I Fall uses the Groundhog Day-idea to tell its story about a young girl, played by Zoey Deutch, who relives the day that she dies over and over again. Zoey Deutch first caught my eye in Richard Linklater’s most recent movie, Everybody Wants Some!!!. In that movie, she surprised me very much. She impressed that much, that when the film ended, I immediately looked her up on IMDb to check out other films she’d been in. Turned out she hadn’t been in a lot of films worth seeing, so I didn’t. But when this film came around and got praised by Barry Jenkins, I was looking forward to see her shine again on the big screen, or in my case, on the tiny screen the plane has to offer. Unfortunately she didn’t impress me at all in the first scenes she was in, just like the whole set up of the film, which left me disappointed, but as the movie progressed and she got more material to work with, she slowly started to become more and more interesting to see and in the end, she was really able to deliver a good performance, with the needed depth. Her character started off pretty one-dimensional, but slowly developed into something much more, which is probably why I wasn’t as impressed by her acting capabilities in the beginning of the film; she just didn’t have enough to work with, except for a hand full of cliches. The characters of her friends were also pretty annoying to watch during the setup, but at least one of their acting stood out to me the most, which was Halston Sage’s acting. Too bad that they all felt like generic teenagers without any depth, which was, after having seen the film the point. I get why they’ve done it, but I would’ve liked that they’d given Zoey Deutch’s character at least some kind of character to keep me watching as I was tempted to turn it off if the movie kept on being this way, luckily it didn’t.
The film’s set up is rather a cliche and unoriginal overall, which is why I wasn’t really that impressed by it. It felt like I had just clicked on a generic teen movie; something I really don’t want to put myself through. In that aspect and some of the subject material, it reminded me very much of the very controversial, yet good Netflix original series called 13 Reasons Why. That show also had a relatively cliched set up, but in my opinion it had from the start better performances. Not only in that way reminded the film of that show, but also because 13 Reasons Why built upon those cliched to transform the show into something worth watching, just like Before I Fall did. When the first day ended and we left our daily teenage cliches behind, the film took off and Zoey Deutch’s performance slowly started to get the attention it deserved. From that point on the film keeps on being not too original, but with enough original content to keep the viewer engaged. I liked that we don’t get to see the exact same things over and over again, even though she’s living the same day over and over again. It kept the movie fresh and stopped it from becoming a boring movie, which it could’ve been. The films also quite predictable, because in the end it’s still a young adult film and luckily it doesn’t shy away from that. It is what it is and it accepts that. It tries to get a message across, that’s pretty in your face – just like some hidden easter eggs/messages -, but at least the movie tries to tell something to its audience.
The directing, done by Ry Russo-Young, was decent, but not really daring. If it had been, the film would’ve benefitted of that, as it would make the film pop more from the other movies with the same premise because there are quite a lot of movies using the Groundhog Day-idea. I did however like the aesthetic of the film; it looked nice and the blue-centered color-grading fitted the tone of the movie very well. The soundtrack also helped with setting the film’s tone and luckily it wasn’t dreadful to hear. It’s not music I’d generally listen to, but it’s not bad music.
In the end, Before I Fall was a decent film. It’s nothing mind-boggling, or equally as good as Groundhog Day, but it can keep you entertained. The beginning of the film is a very rough start, filled with annoying, cliched characters, which you’ll have to sit through, because, after the set-up, the film does get severely better to ultimately end with a satisfying conclusion that’s able to pull some emotional strings. That’s why this film gets a B-.