What would you change if you could re-live your last day? Would you try to be a hero? Would you be a villain? Or would you merely try to right your wrongs?
Unlike most young adult adaptations Before I Fall (2017), directed by Ry Russo-Young, has moved away from the traditional tropes often seen in contemporary “teen” films.
Rather than focusing on a dystopian or magical society, the film is set in a contemporary high school, although at times it does have undertones of the supernatural.
You’re probably thinking, ‘great another teen drama, about another high school’, but let me assure you, Before I Fall is different, and it’ll probably have you in tears by the second act.
Recycling the premise of Groundhog Day, our protagonist, Sam, finds herself trapped and reliving the same day over and over which forces her to question this so-called “perfect life” that she is living. Everything around her is no longer black and white, popular or unpopular, but rather shades of grey that she must untangle, not so different to our own lives.
Before I Fall finds a way to make every day that Sam relives to be new and invigorating, building on her character and targeting difficult themes. It stresses the fact that every day could be your last and every action you take could affect someone else, placing a particular emphasise on bullying. Unfortunately, bullying is a heavily prevalent issue in contemporary society and is a theme commonly portrayed in almost every teen drama.
Before I Fall tackles this difficult subject in a thoughtful manner and reminds the audience to be compassionate. It highlights that it is just as bad to be a bystander as it is being the bully. The film consistently hammers home this point, through the use of the protagonist, who is a bystander in the events that unfold; until she isn’t.
Perhaps the only negative I have after watching this film is how callously the “popular” girls treat anyone below them in the social hierarchy. It provides a harsh insight into the reality of bullying, reiterating the seriousness and prevalence of bullying in todays schools. This honest depiction adds to the seriousness of the film but, for some it might be triggering and this should be kept in mind.
I would highly recommend this film to any person, not just people in high school, as it is a powerful young-adult adaptation full of important life lessons. It is crucial we all treat every day as though it is our last and to treat every person as we would like to be treated; no exceptions.
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