Before I Fall Review


Samantha Joslin

Imagine being stuck in the same day over and over with no way to escape. This is Sam Kingston’s reality in Before I Fall. Before I Fall is a novel, and, recently, a movie, chronicling the life of protagonist Samantha Kingston. She’s a cog in the machine of her four-part friend group, consisting of mean-girl leader Lindsay, sweet nice-girl Elody, promiscuous, ditzy Ally and Sam herself. Sam’s life was normal — better than normal — before 12:39 on February 12th. In her opinion, she had everything: popularity, a hot boyfriend, best friends, invitations to all the best parties. She lived life without worry, happy that she was now in the in-group after being bullied throughout elementary school — bullied by Lindsay, but, hey, that was a long time ago.

   But on the night of Kent McFuller’s parents-are-out-of-town kegger, Sam’s life changes. First shocker: Juliet Sykes, the girl that Sam and her friends tortured at school daily, shows up at the party. Second shocker: she shouts some choice expletives at Sam and Company, resulting in her being pushed around the room and soaked in various kinds of alcohol. Third shocker: on the way home, just as the clock strikes 12:39, Lindsay’s distracted drunk driving causes the four girls’ car to spin off the road and wreck into the woods.

The next morning, Sam wakes up.

Fourth shocker: it’s still February 12th.

Author Lauren Oliver’s amazingly intelligent novel was released in 2010, and its movie adaptation came out on March 3. The film was exceedingly similar to the book, with some details and several lines remaining exactly the same between the two platforms.

What the book has that the movie doesn’t is Oliver’s breathtaking narration. As the days (don’t) go by and Sam remains stuck in the same day over and over and over again, readers can see Sam’s heartless, mean-girl façade splinter and crack. Sam’s character arc is extraordinary, but it’s done in such way that it’s not only believable, but inspiring.

The movie, on the other hand, was stunning from a visual point of view. Executive producer Marc Bienstock has recently broken out with two popular movies, Split and The Visit, and you might recognize lead actress Zoey Deutch from Why Him? The movie also gets points for diversity; from an entirely white cast of novel characters sprung an array of ethnicities and nationalities, including Iranian-American accompanying main actress Medalion Rahimi and Asian actress Cynthy Wu. Kian Lawley also made an appearance in the film, a plus for anyone who follows his viral YouTube channel, @superkian13.

The only major change between the film and the novel was the exclusion of a single pivotal scene. Fans of the book will be very pleased to see the parallels between most of the Cupid Day traditions, the line of red nail polish on Sam’s bedroom floor, Kent McFuller’s entire character and the enduring themes that made the novel so great.

The book easily could’ve become an anti-bullying campaign or a drunk driving deterrent, but Oliver is a much better author than that. She went deeper than the surface level life messages that she could’ve preached on, like “be nice to your peers” and “live each day like it’s your last,” although those were clearly included.  Oliver knows how to connect with teens, from her remarkably accurate portrayal of high school to her inspiring life lessons. The novel’s crucial message is “become who you are,” and this was carried beautifully to the movie.

All in all, the movie is essentially all I could’ve asked for as an adaptation to one of my top 15 favorite books of all time. There is one left-out scene that left me wanting more, but the movie still exceeded my expectations.