Samantha (Zoey Deutch) was once a social outcast, bullied and friendless day after day. Thankfully for her, things are different now. When we first catch up with her, Samantha has found herself in the cool group, so to speak. She’s popular, and with that popularity comes collateral damage, siding with her friends, especially best friend and leader of the pack Lindsey (Halston Sage), in the bullying of other students. She’s not a good person. But soon everything changes. After getting into a fight at a party with a misunderstood school freak, Juliet (Elena Kampouris), Samantha and friends drive off, only to find themselves face to face with a truck, their car taking quite a hit.
This film, in all its young adult glory, is one big walking cliché. Guessing the plot isn’t too difficult of a task. Character arcs can play out exactly as expected and the ultimate conclusion can be predicted from the trailer. The whole film feels like one big fluff, light on plot and even lighter on originality. Yet, somehow, it works. It should be bad, it has every right to be, but Before I Fall has a lot to say. Granted, you’ve seen and heard pretty much all of it before, yet the themes of the plot remain relevant, the subject matter dealing with teen suicide, the negativity of bullying and the overall bullshit and unimportant problems that come with being a high school student.
When coming out of it earlier this week, I wasn’t sure how to feel. It wasn’t until later, once I had sunk in what I’d seen and dwelled on the thematics, that I decided I enjoyed it, however this isn’t a film I see myself ever coming back to. Even when learning to overcome their inherent bitchiness and condescending ways, the characters still feel manipulative and unlikeable. Their story is entertaining, the message one that will strike a nerve with teens, but my god, these characters were a nightmare to deal with, disrespectful to others and to their family, even on a good day. I suppose this is the point, but the point is made through sacrificing the ability to connect with the characters and their problems.
Before I Fall is not a film that’s going to appeal to all, it almost didn’t with me either, but for its target audience, this movie is going to be a hit. It’s a film that knows what it’s trying to be, taking its familiar concept and handful of clichés and doing its best to create an enjoyable, if not extremely forgettable teen tearjerker that’s not nearly as bad as it should have been.
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