The easiest way to describe Before I Fall is that it’s a combination of Groundhog Day and Mean Girls. In my eyes, that combo premise sets it up for failure, since those are two cinematic and cultural classics. How could something live up to that potential? Yet, that is what director Ry Russo-Young goes for, complete with a musical alarm to wake up Samantha, as she repeats every morning of cupids day in high school, where she’s followed by a trio of attractive friends, hated by anyone whose “not like them”, and wraps it all up with a lesson for us to learn in the end. It’s the kind of plot that is marketable to studio executives, but fails with it’s cliched material. Before I Fall is a plastic, phony effort of teenage melodrama, struggling to give us a reason to enjoy going back to high school for one day, let alone repeat it over and over again.
With the recent success of Moonlight, I hope there is a rise of films that tell more unique stories, about people who struggle with their identity, growing up in as confusing of a world that it is. A good start is the movie Departure, written and directed by Andrew Steggall, about a young man named Elliot (Alex Lawther) who discovers himself sexually with a boy named Clement (Phenix Brossard) while helping his mother (Juliet Stevenson) move out of their summer home in the South of France. It is a complex, coming of age story, which is at times poetic, and an emotional drama.