BEFORE I FALL
Before I Fall is essentially Groundhog Day (1993) for teenage girls. Like Bill Murray, Zoey Deutch is trapped into living the same day over and over where we get to see endless variants on the same scenes. And just like Bill Murray, Zoey eventually decides that she will attempt to live the best day she possibly can and this becomes the means to her finding her own redemption.
As an adult male of mumble mumble many years age, I feel like I am the wrong audience for a film like Before I Fall. It is a film made for millennial teenage girls who seem bound up in social media-obsessed culture. To me, the scenes with the teenage girls riding in the car and acting bitchy felt like nails scratched on a blackboard. And by the time the film seemed to show Zoey Deutch as part of a group of girls tormenting and humiliating another girl, I switched off altogether. I should also say that Before I Fall is a film that has one of the most annoying soundtracks of recent years, where the bands that play throughout do their best to demonstrate a complete lack of talent.
On the other hand, just at the point when I was switching off, Before I Fall started to become interesting. The character arc that Zoey Deutch takes throughout seems to be about repudiating the bitchy lifestyle of her peers and trying to save the life of the girl they were humiliating. Director Ry Russo-Young takes a surprisingly sombre tone visually there are never any laugh-out-loud moments in the film, for instance. She delves into a reasonable emotional depth as Zoey Deutch starts to discover more and more about the people around her.
The film also reaches a surprisingly downbeat ending that pushes it almost over into what you could almost consider a deathdream fantasy. I liked the fact that the film sought a depth and held a message about repudiating vapid teen culture. On the other hand, you do come out of it thinking just how shallow Zoey Deutchs life is the life lessons she learns are about spending more time with her younger sister, not being so mean to her mother, about not sleeping with her jerk of a boyfriend and instead with the guy who has been crushing on her forever, and of not bullying the class geek. Not un-noble ambitions some of them but well they just do seem a little trivial.