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    Before We Go (2015): Movie Review

    “A sweet but weightless meet-cute-turned-nocturnal-odyssey romantic film.” 

    Chris Evans stars as a charming jazz trumpeter in his directorial debut called Before We Go. In this romantic drama, Evans strips his Captain America costume to play hero to a stranger damsel in stress in night-time New York.

    Nick Vaughan (Evan) comes to the Big Apple for a shot in jazz audition. It is also his sign – a sign to reconnect with the woman who broke her heart six years earlier. Meanwhile, Brooke Dalton (Alice Eve), a beautiful art consultant, rushes to make the last train bound for Boston. She is desperate to make it home before 8 AM when her husband is supposed to return from a business trip.

    Sadly, she misses the last train at New York’s Grand Central Station. Worse, her Prada purse, containing her wallet and all her ID cards, has been stolen. Nick notices her situation and offers help, although like her, he is broke and his phone is down. Despite initial hesitation, Brooke gives in to his charm and resourcefulness. Together, the two take on a series of little adventures in the city, including retrieving Brooke’s purse, a musical gig at a hotel reception, a visit to a party which Nick has been avoiding, an encounter with his former flame and a detour to a psychic shop.

    Without a doubt, Before We Go takes much inspiration in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995), a walk-and-talk movie that launched the highly successful and critically acclaimed Before trilogy. However, the present film is not as engaging or likable. One reason is that its situations are unnatural and illogical. Instead of asking help from the police, Brooke instead trusts a random stranger. Incidentally, their phones are dead and credits cards are not working so the two are helplessly stuck together.

    Secondly, the characters are simply uninteresting and thinly sketched. Unlike in Before Sunrise where the leads talk about all things (places, religion, ideology, life, love, etc.), Nick and Brooke center their conversations around love, hurts and destiny. Their discussions are repetitive and they eventually become exhausting. Characterization is surface-level, more so that their individual stories are cliché or underdeveloped. In the end, it is hard to root for protagonists who are not able to go beyond mere hopeless romantics.

    However, the film has a number of inventive moments (though not really original) such as the phone calls to the past and the sudden musical concert. It has some compelling scenes, thanks to the heartfelt and sincere performance of the leads. Both Evans and Eve are charismatic, conveying as much depth and intensity to their shallow characters. They are good individually but together, they lack the necessary chemistry. Location is quite elegant, even during the shaky and blurry points. Yet, there is not much familiar landmark, things to remind New York, and the streets are too anonymous and unromantic.

    Despite the film’s flaws, Evan shows he possesses directing chops. It’s like his experiment, a learning experience to do better in his next film. It’s good that he had set modest goals for his first movie. But eventually, he needs to develop his own style instead of borrowing from his inspirations. 

    Before We Go has good little pieces but never manages to integrate them into an appealing whole. Its characters are poorly drawn and back stories are apathetic. It is still satisfying, but not enough to be memorable.

    Production companies: Wonderland Sound and Vision, RSVP Entertainment
    Cast: Chris Evans, Alice Eve, Emma Fitzpatrick
    Director: Chris Evans
    Screenwriter: Ron Bass, Jen Smolka, Chris Shafer, Paul Vicknair
    Producers: Chris Evans, Mark Kassen, McG, Mary Viola, Karen Baldwin, Howard Baldwin, William J. Immerman
    Director of photography: John Guleserian
    Production designer: Theresa Guleserian
    Editor: John Axelrod 
    Music: Chris Westlake



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