Take a Drink: for each beautiful shot of New York
Take a Drink: during each cliche-ridden scene
Do a Shot: for each plot twist
Take a Drink: during each predictable moment
By: Matt Conway (Four Beers) –
Out of all the Avengers cast members, the one whose future I am most curious about is Chris Evans. Unlike his castmates who have stayed mostly in the comfort zone of doing big blockbusters, Evans has tried his hand at smaller films. Most memorably he shined in the fantastic Snowpiecer, but Evans also has done fairly solid work in smaller flicks like Puncture and The Iceman.
Evans is now, like so many other actors, trying his hand at directing with Before We Go. Several actors have tried to transition to directing, with very mixed results. For every Ben Affleck and George Clooney, there is a Ben Stiller. While Evans’ directorial debut shows promise for his future, it’s largely a very cliched indie that fails to leave much of a mark.
Before We Go follows two people who meet in late-night New York. In an effort to get Brooke home, her and Nick spend the night looking for different ways to leave the city. Along the way, the two begin to bond and form a connection.
Even with its slight budget, Before We Go boasts some impressive aesthetics. Cinematographer John Guleserian does an exception job shooting New York City at night time, with the city becoming a character itself in its own way. Even the dirty streets are captured with a romanticized eye, showing the beauty of the small details. The song selection here is quite strong, with most memorably “Rave on Sad Songs” by Jason Collett making for a beautfiul moment.
The film, despite its rather simple storyline, is quite engaging. At 87 minutes long, the film is paced perfectly, never feeling overly long or too short. I was never bored during my viewing, and while that may seem like a small victory, even some good films have their dry segments. A lot of credit has to go to Evans behind the director chair, who has a good grasp of the smaller details of filmmaking.
Carrying this film on their shoulders are its two leads. Evans and Alice Eve share the screen and give overall solid performances. Together they both display their easy charm and likability, and develop strong chemistry together. Both are fare more subdued then we are use to seeing them, which is a pleasant change of pace. It’s too bad the film around them is a mixed bag.
At the root of all this film’s problems is its script. A collaboration between four different writers, which is highly unusual for a small film like this, Before We Go feels like it has too many hands in its script. It’s a shock that four people could collaborate on a script that is, for the most part, insipid and uninspired.
Like a lot of indie films similar to this, the dialogue can be very overbearing and pretentious. The characters in the film don’t talk like actual people, with big speeches spewing life lessons hitting a false note for the most part. The beauty of similar romantic indies like Before Sunrise is the naturalism of the dialogue, which makes the characters and situations feel genuine. Here, that is far from the case.
Before We Go lacks personality. Several films have similar stories and set-ups, and that can work as long as the film is able to make its take feel fresh and unique. Here, the films lacks its own unique spin on the genre, never quite finding its own footing throughout.
At the end of the day, Before We Go’s cardinal sin is its formulaic nature. Too often the film feels as it’s just aping other superior movies, as the script is chock-full of indie cliches. Part Before Sunrise, part Lost in Translation, Before We Go never feels like its own film, mostly evoking superior renditions of its simple set-up. This for the most part makes it feel like a forgettable and extremely slight exercise.
It certainly has its heart in the right place and features likable performances, but Before We Go far too often feels too familiar and slight to really make an impression. Chris Evans, however, shows promise behind the camera, and could have a future ahead of him there.