Marking one of the first major YA movie releases of 2017, Before I Fall, adapted from Lauren Oliver’s 2010 novel of the same name, opens in theaters on March 3.
The film, from Awesomeness Films and Open Road Films, stars Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, and Kian Lawley, and is directed by Ry Russo-Young (Nobody Walks). The story centers on 17-year-old Samantha Kingston (played by Deutch), a popular girl who can be cruel toward those outside her tight-knit social group. During a February 12 (Cupid Day) party, a classmate shows up to confront her bullies. When Sam and her friends leave the party, Sam appears to be killed in a car accident, but wakes up again in her bed on the morning of February 12. She spends the bulk of the story caught in a Groundhog Day-like limbo, doomed to relive the events leading up to her death, unless she can somehow act in a way that alters them.
Oliver spoke with PW about the film and her feelings about having a book adapted to the screen for the first time.
Like any author witnessing their story take on a new life in the hands of others, Oliver was apprehensive about the process. Though she admits, “I’m not sure I ever resolved it,” she counts herself very lucky. “Once we had the right team assembled, I knew we’d be okay,” she said. Though she wasn’t formally involved in the making of the film, she had a “great working relationship” with Russo-Young. “I always felt able to voice an opinion and be heard. But I also am very cognizant of the fact that film is not my medium or my language; I trusted them to get it right,” she said.
Having now seen the film in its entirety, she feels at ease. She was particularly gratified to see how the female characters are developed on-screen: “I think it portrays girls with a richness and dimensionality that is almost unheard of. I think many young women especially will see themselves in the story, but I also hope the movie and its messages transcend a single audience,” she said.
On Page and Screen
HarperCollins, along with the publisher’s digital community, Epic Reads, is pairing with Open Road for promotional efforts that focus both on the film and book. A sweepstakes on Epic Reads will provide one fan and a travel companion with a trip to the Los Angeles premiere on March 1. Runners-up will receive copies of the Before I Fall tie-in edition, which was released from HarperCollins on February 7. Screenings are being held at 10 locations nationwide on February 12; the first 10 people to show up for the screenings at each location will receive copies of the tie-in edition. Also on February 12, Oliver will appear in conversation with the film’s director and cast at Barnes & Noble Santa Monica, Calif. Finally, the clothing store Rue 21 is putting together a series of outfits based on the characters in the book and film; the merchandiser will also be linking to a landing page with a message that urges fans to “read it before you see it,” with links to purchase the book.
Through social media, Oliver has heard from many fans who are fearful that the film might fall short of the book or veer off course, a concern that she finds touching. She assures them that the film remains faithful to the book in terms of tone, plot, and what ultimately lies at stake for Samantha.
For Oliver, experiencing the story visually was viscerally affecting: “It was incredibly, incredibly intense. Painful in many ways,” Oliver said. “The best metaphor I have is that it was like having to get your appendix taken out after the hospital has run out of anesthetic,” she said. That might not seem like a glowing recommendation for a movie, but for Oliver, that’s exactly what it is: “It felt raw and exposed in a profound way. I loved it,” she said.