Director: Ry Russo-Young
Before I Fall starts off weak, but about twenty minutes into it the movie settles in and offers a modern take on the "Groundhog Day" scenario.
There have been a lot of movies that have done the 'reliving the same day' story, so the hesitation to dismiss Before I Fall for having nothing more to bring to the genre is strong. The people who don't dismiss it for that reason will dismiss it when they find out it's based on a young adult novel. However, this is a movie made for high schoolers of today and the challenges they are facing. Perhaps that is part of the reason the first twenty minutes can feel a little rough. You're left wondering if this is real, or some adult's imagination of what high school is like. It's likely a little of both, but that's to be expected from a movie about teenagers. The thing is, the movie never takes the chance to make fun of teenagers, which is commendable.
However, once the movie gets into the repeating day and the various effects of what Sam (Zoey Deutch) does or does not do, the movie gets considerably better. We watch this young woman slowly start to come to terms with the fact that she wasn't happy with the way that she was living her life and how she wants to change it. We see her be a better person not only to her family but also calling out the terrible behavior of those around her. She breaks up with the boyfriend who doesn't treat her well and realizes an old friend is the person for her. This is all set against the backdrop of a soundtrack of new music.
However, what Before I Fall fails to do is bring anything really interesting to the genre. It's not that it does anything badly, but the message is very heavy handed. However, that could be expected considering the age of the target audience. The various reveals all more or less work, but once all of the cards are on the table it becomes very predictable. For a younger person that might not know what to expect, it probably won't be as big of a deal, but for the adults in the audience you know how all of this ends.
Before I Fall doesn't bring anything new to the genre, but for the teenagers who are going to see it, the message is clear, and a good one. As for any adults who have to go with them, the first twenty minutes are rough, but once the movie starts to repeat the day it gets much better even if it's never great.