Published Sep 15, 2014Chris Evans is not in an enviable position. After years spent playing hunky heartthrobs in miserable rom-coms (the Anna Faris-assisted What's Your Number?), sexy superheroes (Captain America) and underrated leads in more interesting pictures (this year's Snowpiercer), the 33-year-old is seemingly at a crossroads between the mediocre films of his past (which there are a lot of) and more serious fare.
That's probably why it came as no surprise back in March when he admitted to Variety that he was ready to leave acting behind and focus on working in the director's chair. Before We Go is the Massachusetts native's first foray into feature-length films from behind the lens. Sadly, for someone who has been witness firsthand to so many steaming piles of cinematic crap, the film suffers not necessarily because of his first-time direction, but a lacklustre script that is way too inspired by the Before trilogy without capitalizing on it.
Evans stars as Nick, a busker practicing his trumpet in Manhattan's Grand Central Station on the eve of an audition with one of his jazz idols. That's when he bumps into Brooke (She's Out of My League's Alice Eve), a Boston-bound art buyer who misses her last train home at 1:30 a.m. after having her purse stolen. Unable to get home in time to mend ties with her (possibly cheating) husband until the morning, the pair spend one romantic and wintery night walking around New York City, getting into such charming shenanigans as breaking into a back alley business in search of her purse, pretending to be a two-piece band at a wedding reception in the hopes of scoring some quick cash and other forms of light fraud.
It's a tantalizing enough tale for a first-time director, but while Evans' heart is in the right place, the majority of the script is not. For a film that is so openly inspired by Richard Linklater and co.'s romantic series (i.e. Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight), Before We Go is a mess of over-scripted asides that make their brief encounter seem like an awkward first date rather than the bona fide makings of a love affair. Add on some seriously shaky camera work and quick cuts, and what you have is a film that seems more slapped together than it should be, even when considering its independent budget.
Evans is certainly a talented actor and filmmaker in the making, but this won't help change the public's opinion. Rather than the philosophical fairy tale it sets out to be, Before We Go ends up feeling exactly like an all-night jaunt through the streets of New York City: exciting at first, but ultimately confusing and all-around exhausting. (Independent)