Before We Go
Actor Chris Evans makes his directorial debut with Before We Go -- a one-night drama surrounding two characters, played with enough energy by Evans and co-star Alice Eve. Aside from that -- Before We Go takes too many pages from Richard Linklater's playbook and comes up short in its attempt at capturing an intimate night between two strangers.
Star Chris Evans switches gears with Before We Go — a one-night character study that Evans directs and co-stars in alongside Alice Eve. Before We Go is an attempt at something small and sweet, focusing on the chemistry between two strangers as their night unfolds, but unfortunately the film feels like it’s borrowing heavily from Richard Linklater‘s own Before trilogy, but with less of a spark and that “in the moment” feel.
Nick (Chris Evans) is a lonely musician just sitting in the train station trying to figure out his life or at least which direction it will go in tonight.
While Brooke (Alice Eve) is racing to catch a train home after having been robbed and losing all of her personal belongings.
They’re both stuck in New York City, with Nick choosing to be and Brooke forced to be. But maybe that’s all part of the universe’s mysterious plan as two complete strangers come together for a night of self-reflection and redemption as they each face their own set of mistakes in hopes of moving forward and onto a better life.
Chris Evans makes his directorial debut with Before We Go — completely changing the pace as he shifts away from his action-oriented career as Captain America for something more intimate and personal.
And he has not a single problem capturing the drama from a performance point of view. Evans has had a long career before picking up the shield for The Avengers and I feel like many have totally forgot that, aside from maybe his more recent work in Snowpiercer.
Evans has a certain charm to him that feels welcoming and warm and exactly like the guy that you’d want to wonder around New York City with. He’s the best kind of company and his character Nick is essentially an extension of that idea and it works well.
Alice Eve‘s Brooke comes with a little more baggage, but both seem to be the perfect match as they unravel their lives over the course of one interesting evening.
It’s fun watching Evans and Eve go back and forth, constantly bringing up topics of discussion that stretch far past normal standards of conversation. They’re not afraid to get up close and personal and that sort of energy feels authentic enough to give the film some good graces.
Unfortunately the film almost constantly feels like a carbon copy of Richard Linklater‘s Before trilogy, which doesn’t work better because it was first, but more so because of how special Linklater made those characters feel and how natural those films progressed over the course of one night without any real reason as to why.
Before We Go constantly feels the need to remind us why these two characters are still associating with each other — be it a stolen purse, lack of cash or credit card funds or the fact that neither of them seem to know many people in NYC that can help them get where they need to be.
And that’s a big killer for the film, because it makes everything feel like an obligation for the story to move forward and less like an organic story coming to life as the night takes over.
Evans’ direction is also rather flat, capturing New York City in a postcard way that feels far from unique or even ground-level given its smaller budget and scope. There’s a lot of handheld work that undermines the direction slightly, almost giving the film a jerky feel to it versus something smooth and fluid.
Still, as a filmmaker Evans manages to keep the story feeling engaging enough to not be considered a complete waste of time. Mostly because of Evans as an actor and his co-star Alice Eve, but also because of Evans as a director with a simple enough vision to warrant a story.
Before We Go is a fine enough debut for Chris Evans as a director, but the rough-edges show. Perhaps a more experienced filmmaker would’ve been able to capture the city a little better or through an entirely different lens or perhaps given the script another once over to weed out some of the excess. As it stands Before We Go still highlights both Evans and Eve’s performances and reminds us that the two can star in action vehicles, but also steal the show on a much smaller scale.