BEFORE WE GO (2015)
Starring Chris Evans, Alice Eve, Emma Fitzpatrick, John Cullum, Mark Kassen, Elijah Morelan, Daniel Spink, Alan Cox, Maria Breyman, Paul Monte Jr., Beth Katehis, Kevin Carolan, Turhan Caylak, Fenton Lawless, Gerald Bunsen and Scott Evans.
Screenplay by Ron Bass & Jen Smolka and Chris Shafer & Paul Vicknair.
Directed by Chris Evans.
Distributed by Radius-TWC/Anchor Bay Home Video. 96 minutes. Rated PG-13.
With his leading man looks and tendency to play iconic characters in big-budget films such as Captain America (the Captain America and Avengers movies), The Human Torch (The Fantastic Four movies), and the ideal boy next door (What’s Your Number? and The Nanny Diaries), it’s easy to forget how quirky and risky some of Chris Evans’ roles have been.
From his hardened futuristic killer in Snowpiercer, to the endangered space explorer in Sunshine, to his psycho mobster in The Iceman to the action movie star and evil ex he played in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, you never knew what direction the young actor would take. Hell, his career even survived being the male lead in the critically and popularly despised parody Not Just Another Teen Movie, which if nothing else must have taught him a thing or two about resilience.
Evans has made a bit of a specialty of handsome guys who are significantly deeper and more nuanced than you would have at first guessed. Therefore, it’s kind of nice that is debut film as a director would be a bittersweet, dialogue-heavy romantic comedy in which the lead characters are almost guaranteed not to end up together.
Before We Go is rather reminiscent to another similarly titled film – Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise – and that is very high praise indeed. And while no one will ever say that Before We Go is the artistic equivalent of Linklater’s film, the fact that it’s even in the same ballpark is a really impressive achievement.
Before We Go shares the same very basic premise as Before Sunrise. Two strangers at crossroads in their lives meet by chance and spend the night walking around a big city (Vienna in Sunset, Manhattan in this film), talking about hopes and dreams, experiencing the city, sharing secrets and getting to know each other much better, even though they know that the real world waits and they will probably never see each other after the next morning.
Granted, Before We Go is rather more gimmicky with the plot device. We deal with robberies, fights, former lovers, infidelities, black-market handbags, unsanctioned musical performances, and many other complications that seem more in line with The Out-of-Towners than Before Sunset, but still it somehow all works. Besides, it’s not all that bad a thing to remind people of The Out-of-Towners either; at least the terrific Jack Lennon/Sandy Dennis original, it would not be so good to remind people of the Steve Martin/Goldie Hawn remake.
However, unlike Before Sunrise, neither of the two lead characters is truly unencumbered for a potential new romance.
Evans plays Nick Vaughan, a jazz trumpeter who is in New York for his dream audition. The problem is, Hannah (Emma Fitzpatrick), the woman who got away for him, one who he still obsesses about six years after their breakup, is also in town at a party with mutual friends. And, she is there with a man. Therefore Nick has been busking at Grand Central Station for hours, trying to avoid going to the party and seeing her.
While closing up his trumpet as the train station is closing down for the night, he spies Brooke Dalton (Alice Eve), and attractive woman who is rushing to catch the last train to Boston, which she barely misses. She has had her purse snatched at a local bar, so she has no money or ID. She broke her phone trying to catch the train. Now she has no way to get home before her husband, for whom she had left a very bitter note which may blow up her marriage.
Nick decides to help the woman get home, but of course his cell phone battery is dead and his credit cards are all maxed out. So the two people walk around the city, trying to find her purse or some money in order to get her back home before her husband finds the note. And though both of them are in love with other people, they start feeling a bit of a mutual attraction as every plan they try to hatch to get her home fails miserably.
Sometimes these gimmicks seem to be completely at the whim of the storyline – when Evans’ character has his credit cards declined early on, making it impossible to just send her home in a cab or bus – he explains that the funny thing is that he had working credit cards that morning. However, the story never bothers to explain what he had done in that day – which seemed to consist of standing around playing trumpet at Grand Central Station for several hours, hiding from the possibility of running into his friend and his former lover – that would have maxed out all of his credit cards in a matter of less than a day.
In a certain amount of ways it is formulaic and a little cheesy. At the same time, I have to admit it kind of got to me. Before We Go is not a perfect film by any means, but it is a surprisingly enjoyable one.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: November 5, 2015.