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‘Before We Go’ borrows too much from ‘Before Sunrise’

‘Before We Go’ borrows too much from ‘Before Sunrise’

before we go review

Before We Go
Written by Ronald Bass, Jen Smolka, Chris Shafer, Paul Vicknair
Directed by Chris Evans
U.S., 2014

Before We Go begins with a missed train that sets the stage for two young artists to find love in one night. A fairly unremarkable premise drawing attention because the film marks the directorial debut of star Chris Evans. Evans plays Nick, a trumpet player who has an audition that could make or break his career. Brooke (Alice Eve) is an art buyer in town to close a big deal, but that 1:30 train meant getting home to deal with her troubled marriage. Brooke’s purse has been stolen and her phone broken, ensuring that she can’t get in touch with friends or family for help. Nick is financially strapped himself, so he can only offer her his company on their Odyssey through Manhattan.

A search of a missing Prada bag pairs these strangers together, but secrets linger as the two traverse the city. Brooke originally identifies herself as Carrie, but eventually she lets Nick in her real name and the reason she must be back in New Haven (those surprises won’t be divulged here). In the interest of time – the film runs only about 90 minutes – Nick and Brooke soon reveal a good deal more about themselves. Both have suffered from bad breaks in their love lives and they relish the opportunity of the unexpected adventures that present themselves. The problem with the film is that most of the more pleasant moments are borrowed from other recognizable films.

The concept of watching two attractive actors spend an evening together is familiar to moviegoers. The Before Trilogy from Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke made an indelible mark on Before We Go, and the comparisons aren’t always flattering. Dead phones and faulty credit weren’t necessary to enjoy Jesse and Celine’s company, often serendipity is enough for viewers to accept. Nick and Brooke’s fears of all the wrong turns they’ve taken in life adds a sort of tension, but said tension is only for appearances. Audiences know going into the theater what they’re going to get.

before we go 2014 review

Evans’ experience, or lack thereof, isn’t evident. The pace is tight and admirably managed despite this film being his first experience behind the camera. Some composition choices by Evans and cinematographer John Guleserian are evidence that Evans has a future in directing, but he’s left defeated by a saccharine screenplay this time around. Kudos to whoever decided to cast John Cullum as a local psychic that Nick and Brooke drop in on, though, he nearly steals the whole film out from under Evans and Eve.

In front of the camera, Chris Evans certainly possesses the requisite charm to return to the genre. A perfect embodiment of pure sincerity made Chris Evans a perfect casting choice for Captain America and that same sensibility works for romantic comedy. Overall, Before We Go‘s formula is very familiar to fans of rom-coms, but Evans ability to sell small moments can’t be oversold. It’s refreshing to see him taking some time away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to dabble in lighter fare. I look forward to his next venture behind the camera.