Reviews

Before We Go fizzles out

Brooke (Alice Eve) and Nick (Chris Evans, both above) meet by chance in New York City's Grand Central Station in Before We Go.
Brooke (Alice Eve) and Nick (Chris Evans, both above) meet by chance in New York City's Grand Central Station in Before We Go.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

Chris Evans' directorial debut makes a nod to Richard Linklater's acclaimed Before Sunrise trilogy, but this romantic drama lacks originality

The story: Trumpet player Nick (Chris Evans) and distraught woman Brooke (Alice Eve) meet at New York's Grand Central Station one night. She looks traumatised but rebuffs his offers of help; he persists.

Two people whose Facebook relationship statuses might say "It's complicated" meet one New York night and, by dawn, their prickly outer layers have peeled away enough for us to fall in love with the idea of them, together, forever.

That is the intention of this drama, which aspires to be that indie staple, a talky two-hander featuring good-lookers in an interesting locale.

Chris Evans is Nick, who plays the trumpet for spare change at Grand Central Station. Alice Eve is Brooke, a stranded out-of-towner. She appears to be a damsel in distress and he seems to be her knight on a white steed.

  • REVIEW / ROMANTIC DRAMA

  • BEFORE WE GO (PG13)

    95 minutes/Opens tomorrow/2/5 stars

But appearances deceive, they both discover.

The title is perhaps a tip of the hat to a similar premise made famous by Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise trilogy (1995-2013). But self-awareness does not excuse one from the the burden of original thought, a quality that this story needs, badly.

This is actor Evans' directorial debut, working with a script from Ronald Bass and five other co- writers. Bass worked on the stiff period drama Snow Flower And The Secret Fan (2011).

Compared with Linklater's work, the script is action-packed - there is almost as much "walk and talk" here as in any Aaron Sorkin movie.

The couple hunt a McGuffin in the form of a stolen purse, an act that gives the oft-quarrelling pair their first reason to stick together. One thing or another forces the two to trek from sweatshops in Chinatown to swankier places as their protective shells drop.

Including so much plot-driven action and a fair number of supporting New York "types" gives each character a healthy amount of back story, but little of that activity supports the idea that Nick and Brooke belong together, especially as it is never clear that either is attracted to the other in the first place, with each one preoccupied with his or her own problems.

The absence of flirtatiousness is where this differs from Linklater- inspired copycats. Evans and company might be subverting expectations, but that is not enough. Evans and Eve as actors get a passing grade, but Evans as director fails to find a thematic centre worth sticking around to watch.

An earlier version of the story had the rating as NC16. The rating is PG13. We are sorry for the error. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2015, with the headline 'Before We Go fizzles out'. Print Edition | Subscribe