Damn time loops. Bill Murray got stuck in one in Groundhog Day and could escape it by surrendering to love. And Tom Cruise had a less pleasant loop in Edge of Tomorrow. He died every time during an alien invasion. Samantha (Zoey Deutch) faces the same problem in Before I Fall. A night out with her friends Lindsay (Halston Sage), Ally (Cynthy Wu) and Elodie (Medalion Rahimi) ends in a disastrous way, after which she wakes up on “Cupid’s Day” over and over again. “Cupid’s Day” is that time of year when youngsters in school give each other roses to show their love.
If these bosom friends would bury themselves with red roses, nobody would really be surprised. Because these narcissistic glamour tarts are living in an egocentric, artificial cocoon, where there’s only room for their stuck-up personalities. A life of perfection and complacency in which the other less-favored (both financially and in appearance) are criticized and mocked. These arrogant girls don’t even realize that they aren’t so popular just because of their looks, but largely thanks to their rich parents. This allows them to distinguish themselves from others materialistically. Driving a car of a somewhat more expensive class. Parading with Louis Vuitton handbags and exclusive clothes.
Before I Fall fails in two areas. First of all, it’s not very original. As I said before, it’s a kind of variation on Groundhog Day. Except that the latter also had some comic situations. This film tackles the issue more seriously and has a much more important message on a moral level. And secondly, it’s highly predictable. Once you know what’s really going on and the facts are slowly revealed, you already know what will happen and what Samantha needs to do to break the cycle. You can even mumble the last sentence simultaneously with Samantha without a problem. As expected, Samantha walks through various emotional stages. From amazement and despair to fear and anger. Ending via a rebellious, fatalistic phase into getting the revelation where she suddenly realizes (although she has experienced that day already a thousands times) how she can solve the problem.
It’s kind of weird. I’m not really a fan of chick flicks. But because of the cyclic aspect and the sophisticated analysis of the different personalities, this high school drama was still fascinating. The interpretations also surprised me in a way. You can’t say those girls are sympathetic, but gradually their intricate characters are revealed and you start to pity them. Especially Deutch delivered a brilliant performance. She looks like a fragile doll. A kind of “Holly Hobbie”-like Gillian Anderson. A lovely girl with an innocent appearance. You don’t see her as an arrogant, hateful and selfish person. The rest of the ladies are cut from the same cloth with their specific deep-rooted emotional issues. I hope they aren’t so vicious in reality.
The ultimate life lesson in the end is quite obvious. It may be a bit of an exaggerated arthritis-causing waving with the index finger in a moralistic way, but ultimately it’s a truism. Perhaps some individuals in this world should focus more on the important things of life, instead of merely being busy with their own status. However, the “I” culture and social pressure are such that it’s almost impossible for young people to see this. Perhaps this film should be added to the school curriculum used nowadays. However, I can imagine that some of those like-minded girls are shocked when they see the denouement. Shocked about Samantha’s fate. But most probably they are happily giggling again the next day while bullying the lesser beauties. Oh well. But remember girls: “Karma is a bitch!”.