Critic’s Note: As atombash.com does not use half-stars, I will have to note here that this review’s “actual” score is 3.5/5 stars, a mixed-positive review
Missed connections have become a more prominent part of social interactions these days. Someone may wish to connect further with someone they only spent a short time with in order to get to know them better. This has led to a boon of services that try to accommodate that (hello Craigslist!) and even some that wish to keep the meetups short and anonymous (helllooo Tinder!). This has led many to wonder that in this age of social media and faster paced living if two strangers can truly get to know one another. Chris Evans uses this inspiration as well as clear love./appreciation for movies like Before Sunrise to make his directorial debut in Before We Go.
Fortunately, while it can be uneven in spots as well as show signs of a new filmmaker, Before We Go is at least a tender, funny and sometimes heartfelt conversation film that shows that Evans has a bright future as a filmmaker ahead of him, as well as shows a great, smaller scale performance from him and his co-star Alice Eve.
It’s a cold night in New York City’s Grand Central Station, which is about to close down for the evening. Musician Nick (Chris Evans) plays his trumpet for the passengers walking by as preparation for a big audition tomorrow for a notable band. Nick is also having a rough night, trying to avoid some people from his past at a reception he was also invited to. This is when Brooke (Alice Eve) runs past him on her way to the 1:30 train the last one out of Grand Central abandoning her phone as it shattered across the floor. Trying to help her, but without her purse (it was stolen) and with credit card and phone troubles of his own, Nick and Brooke embark on a journey across the city to find a way home, learning about each other along the way…
The movie, and others like it live or die on the performances of their lead performers, and Before We Go gets good work out of both Chris Evans and Alice Eve. It is almost refreshing to see Evans do a smaller movie, as he is more often associated with high concept fair (Captain America/The Avengers notwithstanding, but also Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Sunshine, Fantastic Four as well as Snowpiercer) and Alice Eve also gets to stretch her acting chops. Both of these leads are believable, and give very good, heartfelt performances. An audience member can buy Evans as a sort of down and out guy trying to help and even more down and out lady and Eve shows off some good comic timing alongside some serious charm to match Evans’. These are a pair of well-matched performers and the movie is buoyed because of it.
Evans’ work behind the camera is competent as well as shows good intuition alongside room for improvement. Some of the shots of Before We Go are great, but when seemingly implementing a more handheld style, similar to Michael Mann or even at points Joss Whedon or the Russo Brothers, it can be a tad jarring, especially as Before We Go does not go a gritty as a Mann picture, nor did it have too. The pacing is also a bit uneven at times, with some scenes going for a bit too long as well as scenes being in the movie to help the plot or length along as well (including a scene with an old psychic). This being said however, Evans shows that there may be an great future for him in the filmmaking game as, while uneven, the capacity for promise is still there.
The script is somewhat to blame for the unevenness (scenes and dialogue ae a major part of the length issues) however there are also parts of the movie that sing and go along very nicely. The script also subverts many tropes with these kinds of movie, and embraces others wholeheartedly, which makes for a good experience overall. Some of the scenes are funny (definitely looking behind the art of hotel rooms on my next trip) and also a touch dramatic that didn’t feel forced. Essentially, the good and less desirable parts of this movie can be attributed to the script but overall makes for a worthy experience.
Overall, Before We Go is better than most romantic/conversationalist dramas, while not as good as some of its inspirations (it would take a mighty debut to best Richard Linklater or any of the “Before’ films) however it proves itself worthy of a recommendation through winning performances and a keen eye from an up and coming director who has nowhere to go but up.
Before We Go is available now on Video On Demand or Streaming services and will be out in theaters September 4th.