Review: Before I Fall
Zoey Deutch is part of a bitchy high-school clique alongside the more overtly mean Halston Sage (hateful to a frankly rather unconvincing degree). Hoping to lose her virginity by the end of the night, things don’t go anywhere near according to Deutch’s plan. In fact, after a nasty confrontation at a party with a much-bullied lesbian teen (Elena Kampouris), Deutch ends up in a fatal car crash. Only she wakes up…and it’s the same morning all over again. Deutch pretty quickly realises she’s on a loop and in order to get out of it, something about the day needs to change, but what? Medalion Rahimi and Cynthy Wu play the other two mean girls, whilst Jennifer Beals and a truly old-looking Nicholas Lea play Deutch’s parents.
Does a mopey, ‘mean girls’ teen drama version of “Groundhog Day” sound like a good idea to you? If so…you’re wrong. It’s a terrible idea, as this dreadfully dull 2017 film from director Ry Russo-Young (“Nobody Walks” with the underrated Olivia Thirlby) and screenwriter Maria Maggenti (writer-director of the quirkily titled indie lesbian romance from the 90s “The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love”) proves for 100 minutes or so. The film offers up a “Losin’ It” storyline from a female perspective, which is potentially interesting. So it’s a shame that the plotline is mostly kept to the sides whilst it riffs on Harold Ramis for 100 minutes instead. The gorgeous cinematography by Michael Fimognari (“The Lazarus Effect”, “Ouija: Origin of Evil”) was all that kept me awake here.
It’s funny, in “Groundhog Day”, an arsehole (played perfectly by Bill Murray) has to relive the same day over and over until he gets it right. Even then, he’s still kind of the same arsehole, but we don’t care because he’s entertaining and the film is brilliantly done in comedic fashion. In this non-comedic, teen version…yeah, nothing works here. I kept shouting ‘Stop being a cow and you’ll wake up in a different day, you tit!’. I never did that during “Groundhog Day”, because I was having too much fun and the basic premise was fairly fresh at the time. Hell, as much as Murray barely changed by the end of the film, this girl doesn’t change a bit. In fact, at times she comes across even bitchier than when she starts. When a character says to her ‘This isn’t you’, I thought…actually yeah, it is. It’s exactly her. And it’s a massive problem with the film, because it gives you no one worth latching onto. Hell, I didn’t even find the bitchy behaviour remotely plausible, either. Teenagers are dicks, but the filmmakers and performers never convinced me that someone would act the way these particular dicks do. Meanwhile, I’m all for characters learning from their mistakes (even when forced to), is it really fair to make a teenage girl choose a very specific romantic partner as part of the bargain? For an adult, it’s not something that would occur to me, but for a teenager…it feels a bit icky, really. Yes, she makes the decision herself, but is it because it’s her heart’s desire or does she just want to beat the curse put upon her? It really is icky, I’m afraid. Speaking of icky, when you learn that a lot of the dilemma in the film harkens back to a childhood bed-wetting problem…you just want to roll your eyes. Really? Bed-wetting? Also, do you remember the point in “Groundhog Day” where Murray has finally just lost his shit and stops giving a fuck anymore? Zoey Deutch’s version of that involves her wearing mascara or some shit. Yeah, this stupid, slow-arse movie and I were never gonna be friends, and as much as I think Zoey Deutch (daughter of Lea Thompson) is a star waiting to happen, even she couldn’t make this character remotely tolerable for me.
Pretty but mopey teen drama version of “Groundhog Day” features likeable actors playing wholly detestable characters. It tries to attach a profundity to the inanity of teenage-dom, and fails miserably in this endeavour. Miserable being the operative word. With an added sense of humour, this could’ve been something. Without it, it’s nothing. “Before I Fall” obviously means ‘before I fall asleep’, and it might just as well be referring to the audience member struggling to get any entertainment value here.