‘Before I Fall’ journeys from adapting young adult novel into film

Sam seemed to have everything a teenage girl could want: popularity, a hot boyfriend, cool status, fun friends, loving family and seeming happiness. But beyond the superficial, Sam’s life wasn’t so charmed. She was one of a clique of high school mean girls who made life hellish for those different from them. When she’s killed in a car accident, Sam is forced to relive her last day on Earth seven times in order to get things right. She attempts to make sense of what befell her and gain a better understanding of herself and others. In the process Sam evolves, learns to be a good person and comes to accept her fate. As narrated by Sam (Zoey Deutch), the touching story of Before I Fall is based on the 2010 young adult novel by Lauren Oliver.

The film, based on the popular YA novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver, attracted director Ry Russo-Young for its sense of youthful authenticity and intriguing repetitive structure. “When I read the book I was struck by how powerful Sam’s story was and what interesting questions were raised by the recurring day construct,” said Russo-Young. The emotional honesty of Sam’s posthumous journey made a strong impression on her. “Lauren Oliver’s ability to balance the emotional and philosophical resonated with me on a personal level, as it reminded me of my friendships at that time in my life, how deep and all-encompassing they were, and the dramatic choices that I felt I was facing at the time,” said Russo-Young.

Adapting a book to the screen can be a challenging experience, as filmmakers are mindful of staying true to the spirit of the original work. “I knew the film had to capture the emotional core of what book fans loved about the novel,” said Russo-Young.

However, she points out that book and film formats are disparate, necessitating some substantive differences. “At the end of the day, a book and a movie work in different ways because of the mediums,” she said. “ The book charts inner monologues, but movies work with images and translate the characters’ interior world in a different way. So, in making this film, all the choices (visual and otherwise) were made to support Sam’s psychological journey. In this story it was especially true because the whole film exists in her mind.”

The first alteration from the book was geographic. “The book was set in Connecticut with a New England look and feel,” said Russo-Young. “I changed it to the Pacific Northwest, specifically a region called Cascadia which includes the Pacific Northwest and part of Canada and has a unique history. This area felt right to me because it captured the moody angst of the story with its fog, rain and dramatic mountains. There is a beauty and a deathly danger to that region which captured Sam’s between life and death struggle,” adds Russo-Young.

As for similarities to the book, much of the voiceover narration stayed close to the original in the book. For example ‘Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow’ is a book line,” said Russo-Young. “Other times the text was modified. The fact that so many lines made it into the movie untouched is really a tribute to the book and the strength of Lauren’s writing.” Indeed, swathes of dialogue remained intact. “There are some direct lines from the book that we put in the movie, which I always think is fun because I love when you read the book and you see the movie and it’s really true to it,’ said Sage Halston, who plays Lindsay, Sam’s friend and ringleader of a little group of bullies.

“Before I Fall” is now showing in Philippines cinemas from Pioneer Films.

Luke Evans swaggers as Gaston in live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Welsh actor Luke Evans (The Girl on the Train, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) smashes his way to playing Gaston, the shallow and arrogant villager intent on marrying Belle (Emma Watson) in Disney’s live-action fantasy adventure, Beauty and the Beast.

A former War hero, Gaston holds court in the village tavern and has every eligible woman in town wrapped around his finger. Smitten with Belle, who is strong-willed and impervious to his charms, Gaston becomes consumed by rejection and jealousy and leads a mob of villagers to the Beast’s castle to rescue Belle and kill the Beast.

For the role of the egotistical village heartthrob, the filmmakers were concerned the part would be difficult to cast. With a popular character like that from the 1991 animated film, it was important he transitions into a human character the audience would find believable in a real-world environment. The screenwriters bestowed Gaston with some new characteristics to make him appear more contemporary and credible, fashioning him to be a war hero who saved the town from invaders and someone who is easily provoked. Director Bill Condon explains, “With a short temper, he can easily lose control when anyone or anything crosses him, which became an interesting way to take something that was cartoonish and turn it into something real.”

As a bonus, Luke Evans is even an accomplished vocalist, having starred in a number of West End stage productions, and Gaston has a substantial amount of singing in the film.

Luke Evans agrees, saying “I come from the world of musical theatre so I feel very passionate about telling a story with music and lyrics, and what these geniuses did back in 1991 was tell a story which was very, very old and make it appeal to everyone. It has left a lasting impression on many generations of filmgoers.”

“Here’s the thing about Luke Evans,” says Condon. “He has all the qualities that are right for Gaston but he has this other thing which comes from years of working on a stage and which is so important to have in a movie musical, and that’s the joy of performing. This is a role he was born to play.”

In discussing his character Evans says, “Gaston doesn’t see the world the way everyone else sees it. He’s at the top of the pyramid and everyone else is below him. He thinks he can do no wrong and does not understand why Belle does not want to be his wife. I mean, God, is she mad? Is she blind? Is she stupid? He doesn’t get it, which is funny in and of itself, so I really tried to play up the comedic aspects.”

About BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, a live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic featuring an extraordinary ensemble cast, including: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Hattie Morahan and Nathan Mack with Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.

Directed by Bill Condon and based on the 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast, the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Alan Menken provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice. The film is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers.

Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, March 16, 2017, Beauty and the Beast is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Philippines. #BeOurGuestPH