Before I Fall Review
"What if today was the only day for the rest of your life?"
Before I Fall is an American drama film written by Maria Maggenti and directed by Ry Russo-Young. Also, it was produced by Awesomeness Films and Jon Shestack Productions. The movie is based off the 2010 best selling novel of the same name. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2017 and released on March 3rd, 2017. It stars Zoey Deutch (Samantha Kingston), Halston Sage (Lindsay Edgecombe), and Jennifer Beals as Samantha's mother. My personal experience with Before I Fall started with reading the novel, first. The plot of the film remains wholly unchanged as it still revolves around a time loop in which a girl relives the same day.
The film's stays true to its premise from its opening narration. The narration gives the film its overall pensive and dreary mood. The film's story provokes deep thought and reflection. It is meant to teach the viewer a lesson or consider them to have a different outlook on life. Fortunately, film isn't as downbeat as I'm making it out to be. There are numerous entertaining scenes that lighten the mood of the movie.
Samantha Kingston and her close friends (Elody, Ally, and Lindsay) blissfully live their senior year at Ridgeview High. Their clique is popular and infamously known for their "bad girl" antics. Caught in the clutches of high school, they lack concern for anyone they come across. However, Samantha's incident causes her to develop empathy for the people she may have hurt. The time loop is her chance to make things right. Even if she fails, she has an eternity to get it right.
Editing & Cinematography
The film's editor Joe Landauer does an excellent job at keeping the film at an enjoyable pace. Given the time loop theme, the film could've fell in the trap of becoming extremely repetitive or boring. However, the film edits out the old scenes and replaces them with the new, seamlessly. Of course, some are kept for continuity sake—but each day is noticeably different and does not take away too much time from the plot itself. The movie and its runtime of an hour and forty minutes go by in a breeze.
The film's cinematography is alluring as it alternates between bright and dark. The beautiful landscape of the city of Squamish is showcased in several, aerial shots of the town. There are lush outdoors with a crystal, white mountain backdrop. And dark desolated woods which give the movie a feeling of remoteness. As a result, the story feels more personal due to its small town area. Additionally, the non-famous setting gives the movie a warm, indie-feeling. Another great mention is Samantha's makeup and wardrobe. It changes based on the mood of the film and its character.
Music & Casting
One advantage the film has is its musical playlist. The soundtrack is comprised of alternative pop, rap, and electronic dance music. The lyrics and melodies also reflect what's happening on screen. Each song naturally fades in and out—providing the scene that is happening with more dramatic effect. It never overstays its welcome or distracts from what's going on. The music is fun to listen to out of the theater as well!
The film with its excellent choice of casting as brought the characters to life. One noticeable thing is how extremely close the cast of the film are. Their chemistry is palpable. The on-screen friendship does not appear fake or illustrated. Several scenes include sleepovers, car rides, partying, etc. It was very nice to see a cast of individuals play best friends and actually have that connection.
Before I Fall is not just about time looping but about acceptance and choices. The director of the film ( and the author) do a good job of reflecting that in the narrative. The protagonist is challenged to make the right choices. And sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn't. Fortunately, we are taken alongside her journey. The director stays true to its plot and makes adjustments where she saw fit. Parts that are unnecessary to the message of the story were cut out. The result is a successful movie that is entertaining and serious about topics such as bullying and suicide.
The film does the book justice in a way that I rarely see from book to movie adaptations.The writing is an improvement from the novel as well since Samantha's dialogue itself changes from day to day. Certainly, books are different from films. Therefore, a lot of the internal dialogue is lost. But, it is regained in the film through narration and certain scene arrangements. Nevertheless, the film is about teens and their choices. So the film does have its moments where the characters lack an extreme amount of empathy. These moments are annoying for a while. But, if you can stick through these moments out you will be awarded with a film that is guarantee to stir up feelings of sadness, anger, and joy.