The Book: 2010
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (Harper)
The Film: 2017
Before I Fall directed by Ry Russo-Young (Awesomeness Films)
Sam Kingston is at the top of the high school food chain. Her life is perfect. Until the car she’s in crashes. Sam wakes up caught in a loop of living the same day over and over. But each day Sam learns a little more about the people around, and maybe she’ll learn how she can put things right.
In the book, Sam is a lot more of a mean girl, with a lot farther to go on the road to redemption. I hated Sam in the book, but found myself rooting for her, which was what made the book stand out so much for me. In the movie, there just isn’t the time for Sam to win you over in the same way so she was made more of a bystander to her BFF Lindsay’s bullying of Julliet. She throws out a few quiet insults that pale next to Lindsay’s loudness and laughs with her friends, though usually looking uncomfortable. It was an easier position for Sam to make amends, for sure.
This was an interesting book to take on as a movie. So much of Sam’s development in the book is through her internal dialogue. This came across in the film through Sam’s voice-over narration, but whereas in a book narration is necessary, in the film it felt more intrusive. It did help explain how her point-of-view was shifting, though. The secondary characters in the film didn’t get the same help. The film hits on a few of the highlights of what is going on in the other character’s life but unless you’ve read the book, these instances feel pretty disjointed. For example, Juliet freaking out at the party. It feels like a wild over reaction; but if you’d read the book you know just how tormented her high school experience has been.
One thing that both book and movie do well is enforce the message that actions have a ripple effect. This is a message that is especially important in today’s world.
The film had a very Twilight movie feel to it for me. Great soundtrack, rainy northwestern setting, stilted acting and a storyline you can tell is trying to fit in key images/dialogue from the book. If you haven’t read the book, don’t let this feeling stop you from picking it up because the film doesn’t do Oliver’s writing justice at all. Oliver is a writer I keep going back to again and again because her writing is just so fantastic, whereas this movie is already in my rear-view mirror. As I find myself saying so often in these book-to-film posts: Don’t judge the book by the movie. Just read the book.
What did you think of the movie? Share your thoughts in comments.