Sunday 15 July 2018

Movie Review: Before We Go (2014)

A whimsical romance, Before We Go is overly familiar and only mildly enjoyable.

It's past midnight at New York City's Grand Central Station. Nick (Chris Evans) is an aspiring trumpeter in town for an audition and debating whether to attend a party where his ex-girlfriend Hannah (Emma Fitzpatrick) will be present. Art consultant Brooke (Alice Eve) rushes through the station but misses her train home to Boston, while dropping and shattering her phone.

Brooke had her purse stolen earlier in the evening, and Nick himself is broke, but he anyway attempts to help her find a means of transportation. Their interactions are initially awkward as they are both wary of each other and hiding emotional traumas: Nick never got over Hannah, and Brooke's marriage is in trouble. As the night transitions into dawn with various misadventures, the two strangers start to become friends.

Directed by Evans in his debut behind the camera, Before We Go combines elements from many previous bittersweet romances including Brief Encounter, the Before Sunrise trilogy, and Lost In Translation. The film offers almost no original concepts. The two lover-to-be meet at a transportation hub, they are drawn together despite each struggling with emotional scars and self-doubt, and gradually they open up and become close as they share a few amusing, slightly wacky but ultimately harmless experiences over one long night.

The story of course is filled with unexplained coincidences, artificial meet-cute set-ups and forlorn stares into the distance as the personal problems of two souls lost in the night are magnified into crises. And while Nick and Brooke both carry appeal, the script (four writers are credited for a 95 minute movie) never resolves why a successful art expert would invest more than a second glance at a busker frittering his life away because of a failed relationship six years prior.

Despite the overwhelming staleness of the material, Evans and Eve make the most of what they have, and take turns trading scenes of sharing, at first laced with the frostiness of caution and later much more open and honest. Both actors do well in touching tender emotions without dipping into melodrama. Evans' directing is understated rather than flashy, and he makes good use of nighttime locations. A few clumsy edits make their way into the final cut.

Before We Go is an inoffensive story of an unlikely romance, but too obviously shallow and derivative to matter.

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