Before I Fall
By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Mix of iffy behavior, strong messages in well-acted YA tale.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Plenty of positive messages for teen viewers to consider: There's more to life than popularity and status; everyone deserves a certain amount of respect and empathy; a romantic partner should want to be friends with you, support you, and encourage you, not just have sex with you; friends shouldn't blindly stand back as their friends bully others; parents want to be with and talk to their kids if given the chance for open and honest communication; and more.
Positive Role Models
Sam Kingston evolves into an example of redemption and courage as she accepts her chance to save others and make a difference during her repeated experience of the same day. Sam's mother is supportive and kind. Kent is a wonderful friend and a good role model of a friend and potential boyfriend.
Violence & Scariness
The girls get in a fatal car accident one night. In another version of the night, Juliet commits suicide by purposely running in front of a car. In nearly all versions of the night, Juliet confronts Lindsay and her friends, who poke fun at her, push her, and even throw drinks at her face.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sam plans to have sex for the first time on the night, and her friends make jokes about "no glove, no love" and give her a condom to ensure safe sex. There's one sex scene; it shows a teen couple in a bed half dressed. Sam flirts with her handsome teacher. Various teens kiss and make out at Kent's party. Lindsay and the other girls discuss losing their virginity. Lindsay tells her boyfriend what sexual favor she'll give him if he brings her a drink. Elody flashes her bra to her friends in a non-sexual way.
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Strong language includes one "f--king," plus "s--t," "hell," "bitch," "a--hole," "sociopath," "psychokiller," "pathetic," "t-ts," "damn," "bull dyke," and "Mellow Yellow."
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Products & Purchases
Lots of close-ups of Sam's iPhone. Also a couple of cars and Apple MacBook.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink and get drunk at a party (parents are out of town). One character gets so drunk that she gets sick.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Before I Fall is based on Lauren Oliver's best-selling young-adult novel about 17-year-old Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch), who, after a seemingly fatal car accident, wakes up to live the same Friday over and over again. The movie, like the book, has plenty of iffy teen behavior, including partying, sex, verbal and physical bullying, and lying. On some of the repeated days, there's stronger language (including one use of "f--king hell," plus the occasional "b-tch" and "s--t") and more sexual behavior (there's one sex scene, and Sam even propositions a teacher one day) than others. But the day always ends in a party with underage drinking and either a careless-driving-related accident or suicide. In the end, though, the movie poses questions about how teens want to be remembered and has messages about the importance of second chances, the role of empathy, and the value of redemption, courage, and communication.
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Before I Fall
Based on 10 parent reviews
Not for tweens!
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What's the Story?
Based on Lauren Oliver's best-selling 2010 young-adult novel, BEFORE I FALL follows 17-year-old Samantha "Sam" Kingston (Zoey Deutch). Sam seems to have it all as she heads off to school on "Cupid Day" -- the Friday before Valentine's Day, when everyone gets roses at school from friends, significant others, and secret admirers. Sam and her three best friends -- including queen bee Lindsay (Halston Sage), Elody (Medalion Rahimi), and Ally Harris (Cynthy Wu) -- plan to end their day at a keg party hosted by Kent (Logan Miller), Sam's former childhood friend. But at the party, where Sam was supposed to have sex for the first time with her boyfriend, Rob (Kian Lawley), the popular girls get into an ugly confrontation with Juliet (Elena Kampouris), the school misfit they've been bullying for years. As they leave the party, Sam and her friends get into a fatal car accident -- and, a moment later, Sam wakes up to find it's the morning of the same Friday she just lived. No matter what she does, Sam keeps repeating the same day, Groundhog Day-style ... until she figures out what her mission is and can finally move forward.
Is It Any Good?
This well-acted young-adult adaptation explores powerful themes about making second chances count and seeing beyond the superficial to what really matters. Deutch -- looking very similar to her mother, Lea Thompson, circa Some Kind of Wonderful -- does a fabulous job carrying the film. She appears in every scene and has to modify her mood as Sam goes through the stages of grief while dealing with the confusion, anger, and determination of repeating the same day again and again. It's particularly impressive to watch Sam see her friends and family in a new light as she approaches the day with different attitudes -- sometimes abandoning all caution and acting aggressively, other times being sweet to her parents (Jennifer Beals plays her mother) and little sister in a way she hasn't in years.
Director Ry Russo-Young captures the spirit of Oliver's book while smartly making certain aspects a bit more ambiguous. The cast members are all up to the task, particularly Miller as the kind and encouraging Kent, and Sage as ice-queen Lindsay, who knows when to let the subtlest vulnerability show. But it's ultimately Deutch's performance that makes Before I Fall so moving. Her Sam is utterly believable. It takes her a while of repeating Cupid Day to perfect it; once she does, it's a beautiful, bittersweet day.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the messages in Before I Fall. What are they? What can viewers learn from Sam's journey?
How does the story convey the importance of empathy, courage, and communication? Why are they important character strengths?
What does the movie have to say about bullying? Who acts like a bully throughout the movie, and who doesn't? How do characters redeem themselves?
How does the movie depict underage drinking? Does it seem realistic? What are the consequences?
For those familiar with the book: How does the movie compare to the novel? Is it faithful? What, if anything, did you miss? What changes did you like?
- In theaters: March 3, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: May 30, 2017
- Cast: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Jennifer Beals
- Director: Ry Russo-Young
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: Open Road Films
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Communication, Courage, Empathy
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic content involving drinking, sexuality, bullying, some violent images, and language-all involving teens
- Last updated: June 3, 2023
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