‘Before I Fall’ Rises Above Mediocrity

Courtesy of Open Road Films

A girl lives the same day over and over again until she gets it right. Sound familiar? That’s not surprising. The recently released film Before I Fall essentially follows the same plot as the 1993 classic Groundhog Day. But while Groundhog Day is a light comedy, Before I Fall takes the plot in a dark and dramatic direction.

Before I Fall is based on the 2010 bestselling novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver and centers around high school senior Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch), who has a seemingly perfect life. She and her friends are the most popular girls in school, she is dating an attractive boy and she has a relatively normal, loving family. Although Samantha is seemingly a good person, her clique’s queen bee, Lindsay Edgecombe (Halston Sage), is cruel to less popular students, which leads Samantha to act in a similar manner. After getting caught up in a vicious fight between Lindsay and an unpopular girl, she endures a horrible car crash but wakes up in her bed as if it never happened. Samantha learns that she will relive the same day until she gets it right.

Although Before I Fall’s general plot is extremely similar to that of Groundhog Day, the two films take the same idea in two completely different directions. The films deal with the same dilemma: having to live the same day over and over again. However, Before I Fall truly makes the plot its own through a darker, more meaningful lens. The best movies are the ones that make you think about your own reality. Before I Fall is one of those movies.

Like many actresses, Deutch started her career on the Disney Channel, guest-starring as Maya in The Suite Life on Deck. She then moved to the big screen, starring in Beautiful Creatures, Dirty Grandpa and Why Him? Deutch’s rise to fame is merited; she consistently gives strong, believable performances of characters that range from the goofy to the dramatic. Her performance in Before I Fall is no different. She gives life and depth to Samantha. Viewers see the panic in her eyes when she wakes up after the crash and get a sense of her growth, both morally and emotionally, throughout the course of the reoccurring day.

A unique presence in Before I Fall is 21-year-old Kian Lawley, who rose to fame as a YouTube vlogger and plays Samantha’s disrespectful boyfriend Rob Cokran. Although he only has a small role in Before I Fall, Lawley gives a decently believable performance as the classic pretty-boy boyfriend, a rendition that shows promise for his future success in the movie industry.

The cinematography adds a dark element to the film. A dull filter coupled with a dark, analogous color scheme gives the film an ominous feel and a sense of impending doom. The cool-toned cinematic filter reminded me of a higher quality Twilight, giving off a feeling of teenage angst and an eerie mysticality.

Like the cinematography, the soundtrack matches the film’s tone. Just like the film’s plot, the score gradually becomes darker as the narrative progresses. The music is edgy techno songs give the film a modern vibe. And the soundtrack is more than just background noise — I would listen to the songs casually.

Before I Falls message about living life to the fullest is cheesy and simple, but it resonated with me. I came out of the story sharing Samantha’s realization that “what you do today matters, in the moment, and maybe even until infinity.”
Grade: A-