Before We Go (2015)
Director: Chris Evans
Starring: Chris Evans; Alice Eve
Plot: A young woman in New York City races to catch the 1:30 Train to Boston. On the way she is robbed.
Chris Evans’ directorial debut at the helm of lo-fi New York roma-drama Before We Go is a straight-to-DVD (or On Demand/iTunes) release that borrowed a lot but offered little, and was ultimately let down by its sub-par script and misdirection.
Evans, who also starred as the movies’ trumpet playing all-round good guy, did an okay job of presenting a down-trodden and pessimistic tone to the picture yet failed to truly connect either of the two characters to the audience via the camera, leaving Before We Go with a discreet sense of dissatisfaction that the movie will struggle to shake. Even in paying an obvious tribute to Richard Linklater’s flawless romance movie Before Sunrise in a number of unmistakable ways including imaginary phone calls, visits to psychics, and the overall structure of the entire script, the film felt void of a connection or personality, proving that even in mimicking greats you’re not guaranteed success. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Evans’ role as director comes from the pictures’ inability to tell a story through imagery in a way that is anything more than contrived and is completely void of development. Even for an intimate character piece there seemed to be little at play with regard to framing choices and some sequences felt so out of place that it was almost impossible to stay in touch with the characters on screen due to the distractions of some cuts, camera movements, and most specifically the sound editing that attempted dramatic removal from character reveals and instead gifted frustration and a lack of clarity that was not nearly as well pulled off as in Before Sunrise or, indeed, any other successful movie of the genre. What’s more is that the movies so-called ‘money shot’ of Grand Central Station was wasted in the first act and became an indicator of how the romanticism of New York was set to play a limited role, heaping pressure on a script that couldn’t hold the weight.
Roland Bass, screenwriter of Rain Man (1988) among other things, was one of the key minds behind the Before We Go screenplay yet the movie failed to pass from sequence to sequence and act to act without circumstantial development that seemed out of place and ultimately proved to be distracting rather than exciting or enticing. It was, as the photography emphasised, contrived. Even with nods to Linklater, and New York City as a backdrop, nothing seemed natural or befitting of the characters or their development and as such the picture felt soul-less. Unfortunately for the film-makers, so did Alice Eve’s performance…
Alice Eve, star of hits like Star Trek: Into Darkness, shared 50% of the acting load with director-actor Chris Evans and was, in many ways, key to the success of the picture. Without a doubt, she failed to deliver. In almost every scene her character was asked to be anything more than a snobby woman from upper-class Boston, the actress seemed disengaged and certainly not as emotionally free and invested as she should have been. Ultimately, given that her character was a young wife who was being cheated on and was still in love, Eve’s performance lacked the maturity or depth to transcend the contrived nature of her character’s development or the lack of intimacy in the photography. Evans, on the other hand, was watchable if not good. His quiet and brooding character wasn’t anything new for the actor but his performance drew investment and was leaps and bounds ahead of the quality of his co-star.
Overall, Before We Go was a poor tribute to one of the genres greatest ever films – Before Sunrise – and despite featuring a decent soundtrack, really did fail to deliver on almost all fronts. Clearly, with his role split between actor and director, Chris Evans was unable to fully master his new position within the film-making process, making Before We Go a less than impressive debut.