It’s a tired cliché to describe a movie in terms of pre-existing works but “Before I Fall” makes resisting such a rote characterization impossible.
This adaption of the 2010 young adult novel by Lauren Oliver is “Groundhog Day” meets “Twilight” without the vampires and werewolves. As much as it’s probably a disservice to the director Ry Russo-Young, a credible independent filmmaker, and everyone else involved with the movie to reduce it to those terms, there’s just no escaping it.
Set in and around a glossy high school in the Pacific Northwest, and filled with soaring shots of the mountainous, evergreen-strewn landscape, the picture concerns a popular high school student named Samantha (Zoey Deutch) who finds herself reliving the day she dies over and over again.
From the high production values to Deutch’s sensitive performance, the movie has its share of virtues. There’s a certain amount of intrigue established as the events repeat and Samantha tries to make sense of it all, though that rapidly diminishes. It all comes down to the fact that this landscape’s too well-tread and the central conceit should have remained retired.