I’ll admit right off the bat, I never read Lauren Oliver’s young adult novel Before I Fall. In fact, I haven’t read a young adult novel since the first Twilight book was originally published in 2007 when I was in middle school. This also makes me feel incredibly old at the near-elderly age of 23, by the way. But I consider the fact that I haven’t read Before I Fall prior to seeing the film adaptation a good thing because not only was I seeing it with fresh eyes, there wasn’t any chance that I might be let down by changes in the plot.
Anyways, Before I Fall follows the story of Samantha Kingston—played by the refreshingly talented Zoey Deutch—a typically popular high school senior with a tight-knit group of “mean girl” friends. Sam seems to have everything—her friends are pretty and popular just like her (actress Halston Sage stands out as the group’s ringleader, Lindsay), she’s got a hot boyfriend and a foreseeably bright future. But everything changes when she and her friends get into a car accident on the way home from a party that puts Sam in a strange, undefined limbo, forced to relive her final day over and over again.
I won’t give too much away, in case you haven’t read the book, either. But I can tell you that as far as book-to-film adaptations go, this one is a relative breath of fresh air. The “live each day to the fullest” and “treat everyone with kindness” themes that lie at the heart of the film’s ultimate message don’t feel contrived, when they easily could have, thanks to Ry Russo-Young’s direction and cast of talented young actors. Deutch’s vulnerability and natural ease in front of the camera makes each day that Sam is forced to relive feels fresh each time. Matched with a soundtrack scored by Adam Taylor that gives off vibes of contemporary pop and electronic music, the film’s journey is one that keeps you more or less locked in through the end.
Sure, there are moments when the film fails to transcend the limitations and clichés of its drama. For the most part, however, I found it to be an effective and relevant journey. Oh, and I might have cried at the end a little bit, too. But I guess that’s a given when it comes to movies (and books) like this.
Before I Fall stars Deutch, Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Jennifer Beals, Diego Boneta, and Elena Kampouris. It opens in select theatres on March 3, 2017. Check out the film’s official trailer below.