By: Addison Wylie
I’ve accused some filmmakers and actors of being secret admirers of romances and rom-coms. Chris Evans (Captain America himself) can be added to that list for he not only frequents rom-coms (including this year’s smug Playing It Cool), but he has also unwisely started his directorial career with the lovey-dovey Before We Go. Evans’ romance doesn’t give in to typical clichés – it throws itself at them.
Pardon the blasé backlash, but Before We Go is destined to be a movie you turn on in the background while you run around your house and do chores. You occasionally walk in front of the television to observe what’s going on, and see that the “artwork graffiti” scene or the “payphone in-joke” is playing. You smirk because the idea of it is funny, but you scowl at how its director and screenplay treat it as a cutesy charade – you’re instantly turned off. Before We Go is filled with these quick snaps of charm that interest us for a moment before we find out that these concepts are, in fact, hollowed out and only looking to make those with undemanding minds mildly smile.
Evans stars with She’s Out of My League’s Alice Eve in a film that begins with two attractive people meeting-cute at New York’s Grand Central Station. She misses her train, he wants to help her, and together they wander around the Big Apple and try to figure out how to solve her problems which, in turn, helps him…solve his problems. Think of it as Richard Linklater’s Before series dropping in to a party which Nick and Norah are attending with their infinite playlist. In fact, don’t think about it. The four screenwriters of this film already did!
Chris Evans and Alice Eve (as Nick and a woman who may or may not be named “Carrie”) often look like Chris Evans and Alice Eve noodling and canoodling around New York City, which makes it hard for us see these two as strangers or love interests. Eve may be unrecognizable to some movie goers who haven’t been exposed to her, but Evans’ snappy comebacks and trademark grin give the actor away. That scruff and his stylings on the trumpet are not enough to involve him in his role. He either should’ve negotiated for some rewrites, buried himself in make-up, or taken himself out of the role altogether.
The two performers do an equal amount of heavy lifting, and they get along quite well on screen. But why, oh why, did the film sell itself out to such artificially sweetened banality? What was with that scene where Nick and “Carrie” spontaneously drop in on a psychic? The writers dress up this run-in as a pivotal point where Nick is given words of wisdom, but the shallow execution only features a twinkly-eyed gentlemen reminiscing about how splendid love is. This kind soul makes Luba Goy’s psychic from My Ex-Ex look subdued.
As far as filmmaking potential from Chris Evans goes, the audience sees very little of it. I did enjoy how the director played audio clips of hopeful conversations over top of other footage to illustrate torn emotions. This suggests that Evans may be able to pull off a more multi-layered film in the future. Sadly, that’s where the creativity tap runs dry. If the budding director wants to make a successful romance, he’s going to have to go against the sentimentality he loves in order to make a memorable entry into the genre. Before We Go doesn’t come close to cutting it.
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