In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it come back to hit him, repeating this action for eternity. Through the classical influence on modern culture, tasks that are both laborious and futile are therefore described as Sisyphean. Why is this English lesson pertinent to this review? It’s not but it’ll help you better understand why it’s used in the movie and will help you grasp the intent behind the yarn.
Before I Fall starts with a voice of a young woman, Sam (Deutch), explaining that, ‘people may have a lifetime of days to waste but…’ and then throws some wisdom out that anyone only truly has today and warns that wasting time isn’t how one should see any moment they’re in. I try not watching the trailers of, or read too much about, movies before I screen them for review so that I don’t have any preconceived notions of what I’m about to see but it was obvious very quickly that I was in for the teenage dramatic version of Ground Hogs Day with this one. That being the case and not minding the idea, I got comfy and watched the story unfold.
Alarm clock belonging to Sam goes off and we meet Sam. Sam loves her friends Lindsay (Sage), Ally (Wu) and Elody (Rahimi). She is always with them and them her. They’re rich, spoiled and have no respect for anyone, including one another, but outside of sleeping, they’re pretty inseparable. Like any group, there is a pecking order and though rather high in position, Sam isn’t at the top. That honor goes to Lindsay who is anything but a likable person. She’s mean-spirited, loves to watch people squirm as she puts them in their place and enjoys gossiping behind their backs the moment they turn around. Unaware it happens to them, the pack ignores yet allows Lindsay to say and do as she pleases, as long as she’s nice to them. As she does every morning, Lindsay picks Sam and the others up one by one and off to school they go. However, this day is special; it’s different. It’s Cupid’s Day and they can’t wait to see who receives the most roses throughout the day as this determines who is the most popular.
They go through their day as they usually do, being petty to parents and being mean to students. Sam gets an invite to a party being thrown by her old friend, and the films nice guy, Kent (Miller) and the girls decide to attend. At the party, Sam plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, Rob. While there, however, she watches Rob get horribly drunk and act like a fool and decides not to go through with it. Before leaving, the foursome drinks, do their usual teasing of a favorite victim named Juliet (Kampouris) and get in the car and go home. An accident occurs and then; cut to alarm clock… and the day starts over. Knowing the things that had happened throughout the day, you see where this is leading. Sam isn’t Lindsay. She isn’t mean at her core. She’s more of an obliging witness where she may play a hand on occasion but would rather not. If she isn’t dreaming, can she change things about her life?
The movie continues in this fashion for the rest of it. Sam learns a little each time she wakes up to the same ugly day that awaits her. Is she in hell? Can she do the right thing and be redeemed? Eventually, you notice one situation that she hasn’t necessarily made a big effort at correcting. A slight attempt at a stand but not the true attack it needs. Why? Could be because she’d see where she was at fault for having created it in the first place. Well, why is she on this day to begin with? By the end of the film, she gets it but is it too late? Are the answers in the actions she herself has made or in those of other people? Will she now pay a price for not being a virtuous soul? Will she have to sacrifice something herself to correct the course she’s now on?
I like that you don’t know these answers and that’s why I enjoyed the movie. I would hate to categorize it as a chick flick but I think I have to. The length of time spent with the teenage girls in the car, listening to music, hating on people and talking about boys makes it abundantly clear that the film wasn’t made for adult males. The audience it was made for, the teenagers will absolutely love it. Zoey Deutch is a good choice to play the sweet-faced martyr and Halston Sage does a good job of reminding us what we hated about high school more than even the homework. If you’re a fan of dramas packed with mystery and wouldn’t mind the Mean Girls vibe, check out Before I Fall and look for all of the answers to the questions above. Is she dead? You tell me.
Before I Fall movie review by Shari K. Green