Today was March 372nd 2020, and I celebrated with another time-loop movie. Albert Einstein never actually said that insanity was doing the same thing and expecting different results; but he would have done if he watched Before I Fall more than once. Spoilers follow.
First off, I’m not the target market for this movie by about twenty years (although, being an ageing hipster, I loved the soundtrack). I hated almost everything about it, including the colour palette, which was so washed-out that I thought my projector was broken. The symbolism was ridiculously heavy – discussions of the butterfly effect, paper cranes, a school lesson about Sisyphus. And it’s the first time loop film I’ve watched with no sense of humour.
Samantha Kingston is a member of a clique of high-school days who count bullying among their hobbies. It’s like Heathers without the playfulness and wit. This is a film with all the moral authority of American Beauty.
One thing I loved about this film was how it handled the second iteration. Rather than lingering on disbelief and confusion, Samantha’s response is dazed and understated. That was lovely. There was also a scene in a restaurant. It wasn’t a special restaurant, just one that a family went to regularly, which made me all the more nostalgic – remember the time when we would casually go to premium-mediocre restaurants? When dining out was nothing special?
The film is all about Samantha achieving redemption for her selfishness by rescuing Juliet, a woman she has bullied to the point of suicide. It’s frustrating to see Juliet used as a prop for Sam’s redemption rather than getting to be a protagonist in her own story. And is all the damage in Juliet’s life going to be magically fixed by Sam’s self-sacrifice? A sacrifice which will be pretty inexplicable to Juliet.
- Length of first iteration: 20 minutes
- Length of second iteration: 11 minutes
- Reset point: death or sleep
- Fidelity of loop: perfect
- Exit from the loop: rescuing her victim
There’s something interesting about this idea of repeating a day until you get it right. Firstly, there’s the whole idea that it takes years of practise to get even a single day right. And the idea that every moment must be treated as precious… I mean, it is. But, you can’t live every day as if it was your last. Otherwise, to steal a joke from Viz, you’d spend every day sedated and on life support.
Thing is, this is not the worst time-loop movie out there. I think I will get the Worst Time Loop Film out of the way next.If you want to follow what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list