Zoey Deutch, who recently played James Franco’s smart girlfriend in “Why Him?” stars anew as in the deeply touching book-to-movie adaptation “Before I Fall”.
In “Before I Fall,” Deutch plays Sam, a high school student who has everything a 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.
Based on the book of the same title by Lauren Oliver, “Before I Fall” is set on Feb. 12, which at the high school Sam attends, is known as Cupid Day. With her looks and popularity, Sam has never given much thought to others, especially those not as blessed with teenage good fortune. But on a fateful day, her last, she begins to figure things out.
Sam’s best friends are: Lindsay, the ringleader, played by Halston Sage, and loyal followers Ally (Cynthia Wu) and Elody (Medalion Rahimi). They are the girls who make life fairly miserable for classmates on the fringes, social misfits and anyone not in their elite social set. Their focus is trained on clothes, popularity, boys, partying and sex. Sam wakes up and goes to school, taking in stride the flowers and other tokens of admiration given her and the attention she has grown so used to. As the day goes on, problems arise, but she brushes them aside—until late at night when she leaves a party with her trio of gal pals.
“I think it’s awesome so many women were involved,” says Deutch. “The book was written by a woman, the script was written by a woman, the film is directed by a woman and it’s primarily a female cast. There’s something really special and cool about that. I’m super proud of that element.”
The search for authentic identity is a critical element in the story. “The movie is really about who you want to be before you die,” says director Russo-Young. “It’s the idea of self-determination and that Sam’s struggle is essentially the human struggle to become who you are. Deutch took the film’s themes to heart. “I think the idea is a beautiful concept: What you do today matters. It matters now and kind of into infinity.”
“Before I Fall” opens March 8 in cinemas from Pioneer Films.