As far as YA adaptations go, Before I Fall is pretty successful. The high-concept Mean Girls-meets-Groundhog Day, without the laughs of either, stars the ready-for-bigger-things Zoey Deutch (Everybody Wants Some!!) as Samantha Kingston, who is forced to relive a tragic Cupid’s Day (it’s what they call it at her school) for obscure purposes. After attending the same classes, the same party and witnessing the same daily high-school humiliations several days in a row, Sam finally catches on to the purpose behind her purgatory. It will not come as a big surprise to any keen viewer.
Where the movie works best, besides the appealing young cast led by Deutch—Halston Sage and Logan Miller impress as well—is the repurposing of Sam’s Groundhog Day experience as a metaphor for high school. As Stephen King put it in Dreamcatcher, “SSDD,” or “same shit, different day.” As Sam tries to achieve different outcomes by making different choices, she realizes the real lesson and learns to love herself, her mom, her sister and her life. Director Ry Russo-Young and scriptwriter Maria Maggenti find what is fresh in Lauren Oliver’s well-received tale and craft a YA adaptation that might surprise some viewers.
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