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Before I Fall Movie Review

Before I Fall (2017) movie poster Before I Fall

Theatrical Release: March 3, 2017 / Running Time: 98 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Ry Russo-Young / Writers: Lauren Oliver (novel); Maria Maggenti (screenplay)

Cast: Zoey Deutch (Samantha Kingston), Halston Sage (Lindsay Edgecomb), Logan Miller (Kent McFuller), Kian Lawley (Rob Cokran), Elena Kampouris (Juliet Sykes), Diego Boneta (Mr. Daimler), Jennifer Beals (Samantha's Mother), Cynthy Wu (Allison Harris), Erica Tremblay (Izzy Kingston), Medalion Rahimi (Elody), Liv Hewson (Anna Cartullo)


What if Groundhog Day was aimed at teenaged girls? Then, it would be Before I Fall. Adapted from the bestselling 2010 novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver, Before spends Friday,
February 12th with Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch). It's Cupid Day, which per her Pacific Northwest high school's tradition, means receiving roses from admiring classmates. It is also the night that Samantha expects to lose her virginity to Rob Cokran (Kian Lawley), her cool boyfriend with a pierced nose.

Life, however, has other plans for Samantha and her three best friends: outspoken carpool driver Lindsay (Halston Sage) and playful backseat riders Allison (Cynthy Wu) and Elody (Medalion Rahimi). The four pals go to a house party hosted by Kent (Logan Miller), a childhood friend of Samantha's who is clearly crushing on her. Shortly after midnight, following a hostile run-in with Juliet Sykes (Elena Kampouris), a wild-haired classmate they and others torment profusely, the group gets into a major car crash. When Samantha awakens, it is the morning of February 12th again for her and she alone has another chance to live this day.

In "Before I Fall", teenager Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch) finds herself reliving the same day over and over again.

Just like Bill Murray's grumpy weatherman Phil Connors, Samantha is stuck in this day again and again. She experiences many of the same emotions as Phil, from déjà vu to bewilderment to devil-may-care acceptance. She surprises her parents with a risque outfit, calls out Lindsay on her duplicitous nature, and comes to a better understanding of a lesbian classmate (Liv Hewson) who scoffs at the heteronormative Cupid Day practices.

Not nearly as quickly as we do, Samantha figures out that reaching out to the bullied outcast Juliet may be the key to living this day right and getting to see more than just the wee morning hours of February 13th.

Samantha (Zoey Deutch) and her three best friends (Halston Sage, Medalion Rahimi, and Cynthy Wu) are at the center of "Before I Fall."

Groundhog Day writer Danny Rubin would appear to have a pretty open and shut copyright infringement case against author Oliver and screenwriter Maria Maggenti. The two ladies take the concept and ideas of what is regarded as one of the greatest comedies of the '90s and apply them to teen tropes and high school archetypes. There is but a tiny
sliver of the humor and humanity found in the unofficial, uncredited 1993 source film. Rather than tautly-edited laughs and repetition, Before opts for melodrama and its premise fails to hook you or add up in a way that satisfies and makes sense.

Directed by young indie filmmaker Ry Russo-Young (Nobody Walks, You Won't Miss Me), Before is not the painful full-blown mess that the recent genre-bending The Space Between Us was. But it consistently underwhelms with its portrayals of female friendship, bullying, and romance as they apply to the modern teenage experience. Deutch, who has grown somewhat exposed over the past fifteen months, gives an okay lead performance, but she is no Jennifer Lawrence and this is no Winter's Bone. The film means well enough and, though far from graceful, its messages of appreciating what you have and not picking on others, are ones you can easily get behind. But most of the time, it's less insightful and intelligent than you want it to be, right down to the disappointing, if somewhat surprising, ending.

Though mostly populated by young nobodies, the cast of Before I Fall does include Flashdance Star Jennifer Beals, picking up her first significant theatrical credit since 2010's The Book of Eli, as Samantha's mother.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Logan • Table 19 • Get Out • The Space Between Us • The Great Wall • Land of Mine • Rings
Zoey Deutch: Beautiful Creatures • Vampire Academy • Everybody Wants Some!! • Why Him?
Halston Sage: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse • Goosebumps • Grown Ups 2 | Jennifer Beals: Flashdance
Christmas All Over Again • Next • Deja Vu

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Reviewed March 3, 2017.

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