Before I Fall movie review: A loop of predictable, illogical drama
The thing with most young adult genre films is that they’re neither sophisticated enough for adults to appreciate nor do they completely embrace the camp sensibilities of teen dramas. This results in movies that seem to take themselves too seriously despite having cheesy plots. We saw the same problem repeat itself in The Space Between Us a few weeks ago, and though this week’s Before I Fall is a minor step up in quality, it isn’t gripping enough to keep you in your seats.
Directed by Ry-Russon Young and based on a YA book of the same name, Before I Fall is a cross between Groundhog Day, Source Code, Donnie Darko, Butterfly Effect, Edge of Tomorrow, and the oeuvre of Nicholas Sparks. Samantha (Zoey Deutch) is a rich white girl who hangs out with her other rich friends – she attends a party and on the ride back home gets embroiled in a seemingly fatal accident.
Instead of dying, however, she wakes up in her bed at home and realizes she’s caught in a time loop, having to relive the day over and over again.
As with these ‘time loop’ films Samantha must learn to realize the mistakes she’s made in life, how her actions effect the people around her, and how she should make amends to fix things.
As she is left to deal with such ‘Hollywood high school issues’ such as bullying the outcast, losing her virginity and realising the toxicity of the circle she hangs out with, she is forced to unravel the mystery behind what’s happening and ultimately walk down the path of enlightenment.
It’s all very predictable and despite a decent performance from Deutch (she really deserves better films) the story-line contains little ingenuity to keep you from constantly thinking about better films with the same plot line.
Moreover everyone surrounding Zoey is a plastic stereotypical character, following the beats of their stereotypical actions like a check list – the sassy girl, the nerdy one, the cute crush etc.
The other big issue is the reveal of whatever is happening to Zoey having zero positive consequences. Once the information is given to us regarding why she’s stuck in a time loop we’re supposed to feel awed, but all the reveal does is make us question what difference it makes. Much like the other films in the genre there's supposed to be a redemptive twist but there’s neither genuine redemption nor logic.
In simpler words, we’re led to believe that everything that happened was about ‘Fixing A’ due to some heroic change in actions by ‘B’, but by the end of the film it becomes obvious that ‘A’ is in fact left in a much worse situation than at the beginning of the film, but everyone, including the makers of the film think otherwise.
There’s a ‘faith’ based connection to make things as saccharine as possible, and if you’re not into that kind of thing you’ll find your eyeballs rolling in their sockets every two minutes, just like in a time loop.
If you’re looking for a better film about a girl redeeming herself in a clique of rich white and severely privileged American high school bullies, check out Mean Girls instead.