March 8, 2017

Before I Fall: Deceased Teen Relives Last Day Over and Over

Samantha “Sam” Kingston (Zoey Deutch) was a spoiled brat who was killed on the night February 12th in a tragic car crash. She and her younger sister Izzy (Erica Tremblay) grew up in the lap of luxury as they were raised by their loving parents (Jennifer Beals and Nicholas Lea).

Also, the unfortunate 17-year-old was leaving behind a handsome boyfriend Rob (Kian Lawley) and an ardent admirer — Kent (Logan Miller), a platonic friend whom she had taken for granted since grade school. Sam was also popular at her High School where she was part of an exclusive clique that also included her three best friends, Liz (Halston Sage), Elody (Medalion Rahimi), and Ally (Cynthy Wu).

The quartet delighted in teasing classmates like the lesbian Anna (Liv Hewson) and a reclusive outcast Juliet (Elena Kampouri). Sam would think nothing was wrong with dumping drinks on Juliet while calling her a “psycho bitch.”

However, after the accident, she was given the unusual opportunity to reconsider her cruel behavior when, instead of dying, her spirit miraculously reentered her body. When she awoke, she realized that it was again dawn on February 12th, and that she was about to relive the day.

In fact, Sam experiences February 12th over and over, learning valuable lessons in tolerance each go-round. Thus unfolds Before I Fall, a bittersweet tale of redemption based on Lauren Oliver’s novel of the same name.

Of course the picture’s premise is reminiscent of the Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day (1993). The movie was directed by Ry Russo-Young (Nobody Walks), who puts a fresh spin on the theme so that you forget Groundhog Day after the first 15 minutes.

Zoey Deutch is incredibly convincing as Sam in a demanding role which calls for a considerable acting range over the course of the story. Her supporting cast delivers stellar work in portraying an escapist fantasy that might easily have fallen apart.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for mature themes, bullying, sexuality, violent images, profanity, and underage drinking. Running time: 99 minutes. Distributor: Open Road Films.