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January 2, 2018

Before I Fall (2017) --- "Girl Experiences Bill Murray's Groundhog's Day On A Whole Other Level."

Plot Summary
Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch) seems to have it all: popularity, a loving boyfriend (Kian Lawley) and a seemingly perfect future. Everything changes in the blink of an eye when she dies in a car crash but then magically wakes up to find herself reliving the same day over and over again. As Samantha tries to untangle the mystery of a life derailed, she must also unravel the secrets of the people closest to her and discover how the power of a single day can make a difference. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Time loops. In Groundhog Day (1993) Bill Murray got stuck in one and could only escape once he surrendered to love. Then there’s Edge of Tomorrow (2014) where Tom Cruise experienced a less than pleasant time loop that resulted in him continually dying during an alien invasion. Now we have Before I Fall (2017), a mystery-drama film based on the popular 2010 Young Adult (YA) novel, of the same name, by Lauren Oliver. Both film and novel use Groundhog Day’s classic “the same day repetition” but too often than not do the films rip off a great film by using cheaper variations of the same them; we saw this in Edge of Tomorrow. But what makes Before I Fall different is that it takes “the same day repetition” and makes it its own. Groundhog Day’s was played more for generating laughs and less for inducing a deep emotional response thus short-cheating the potential of the film’s main concept. Although this more youthful take on a classic concept doesn’t reach its full potential, both film and novel go much farther than the comedy film by having the strength and deep emotional appeal that is attractive to almost any audience.
     The film is insightful as it touches on the dynamics of high school life, whether you’re loved and popular or an unloved outcast. It shows that even those who are popular can be just as flawed as the outcast, which is something that the very flawed main character learns throughout the film. And by learning these truths she betters herself in order to finally set things right. The film’s message is powerful and moving; that how we treat others versus how we should really treat people can play a big part in our everyday lives. I believe that the story can inspire people to be better than they are, to be nicer to others even if you think their weird because perhaps all that that person needs is a helping hand. We don’t have the luxury to turn back the clock and start over when we mess up, and we don’t always get the chance to learn from our mistakes, let alone repeat the experience countless times. There are a few moments where the pace slows down and there is the use of a couple fillers that are just plain obvious, but this in no way hinders the film in a bad way.
     The interpretations of the main characters are surprising throughout. At first, you can’t be sympathetic to the girls because they’re narcissistic spoiled brats living in an egocentric cocoon that is just barely big enough for their self-centered personalities. They live a life of “perfection” where that less-fortunate in money and outward appearance are mocked and bullied. Their arrogance makes it harder for them to realize that they're only popular because of their rich parents and this gives them the “freedom” to distinguish themselves as being superior to others on a materialistic level. However, as the film progresses we start to see the bits and pieces of their inner characters and you start to pity them. You pity them because while they may put up the front that they “have it all” in reality they just a much lacking as the outcasts. Zoey Deutch (Why Him?) delivers a strong and compelling performance as Samantha Kingston, a lovely girl with an innocent appearance; like a fragile doll. The other girls – Lindsey (Halston Sage - Neighbors), Ally (Cynthy WuThe Catch), and Elodie (Medalion RahimiThe Catch) – are cut from the same cloth due to their deep-rooted emotional issues that have turned them into arrogant, hateful, and selfish people. And while Samantha takes part in some of their bullying we quickly realize that it comes from the basic high school fear of not fitting in with the crowd. Deutch gives the film her all in this film; when she’s angry, happy, and sad we can feel it. An early revelation makes it obvious that Sam needs to talk to Juliet (Elena KampourisMy Big Fat Greek Wedding 2), the mysterious outcast who seems to play a much bigger role than we first realize. Another great performance lies with the main baddie of the girls, Halston Sage (Lindsey) who manages to conjure up every snooty clique queen for some major chick flick films in history; like Regina George (Rachel McAdams) in Mean Girls (2004), Madison Morgan (Bella Thorne) in The DUFF (2015), and Lucy Wyman (Judy Greer) in 13 Going on 30 (2004).

     Overall, Before I Fall (2017) is an entertaining mystery-drama film based on the popular 2010 YA novel, of the same name, by Lauren Oliver and shows promise for its young director, Ry Russo-Young (You Won’t Miss Me). The valuable aspect of the whole film is the coming of age story that teaches us some important life lesson about how our actions and inactions can affect others, as well as the value of living life to its fullest. Perhaps people should be more focused on the important things of life, rather than focusing on their own social status. But social and peer pressure is such that it's almost impossible for some people to understand this concept. In short, this film is insightful and beautiful with an important life lesson, and the ending is both refreshing and tear-jerking for anyone that watches it. 

"Maybe for you, there's a tomorrow. Maybe for you, there's 1,000 or 3,000, or 10... So much time, you can bathe in it. So much time, you can waste it. But for some of us, there's only today, and what you do today matters - in the moment, and maybe into infinity... But I didn't know any of that... Until right before I fell."
- Samantha Kingston

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  8.4 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  8.4 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
Endless Love (2014)
Everything, Everything (2017)
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Gifted (2017)
Ghost (1990)
If I Stay (2014)
The Lake House (2006)
Paper Towns (2015)
Secret Life of Bees (2008)
Time Travelers Wife (2009)
The Vow (2012)

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