Teen movies seem to be having a renaissance period at the moment. When Edge of Seventeen opened in 2016 it served as a reminder of what a good movie for teens could and should be. Since then there’s been the odd teen movie but it’s these first four months of 2018 that have seen some more memorable ones. Look at April alone! Take Blockers for instance. Who would have thought that a film about three parents trying to stop their teen daughters from losing their respective virginities would be so good? Especially when taking in just how bad the promo materials were… Although the film has the features and appeal of a mainstream comedy, it has an extra layer of potency and relatability for the teen market. Midnight Sun may not have been perfect, but it did what it needed to do. Now we’ve got Every Day, another romance about an unlikely pairing who have huge obstacles in their way. The big difference is the obstacle in the former is the female protagonist’s rare genetic disorder xeroderma pigmentosum. The obstacle in the latter is linked to the fact that fifteen actors are all credited as the character known as ‘A’.
That’s because ‘A’ doesn’t have an actual name or an actual body or an actual existence. What they are is undefined, the closest reference point would be a spirit. Every Day (title in the movie time!) ‘A’ wakes up in a different body. For that day ‘A’ takes over that person’s body and therefore their life – to the outside world they remain the same, just that ‘A’ is in control of proceedings. ‘A’ has never known anything different and has been following the same routine for the last 16 odd years. Each day they way up in a new body, set an alarm on their phone for 11pm and 11.50pm, work out the name of the new person they’re inhabiting for the day, then lives out a day in their lives. It could be a girl. It could be a boy. Either way ‘A’ does as much as they can to ensure that the day is not too dissimilar and they do not behave in a way that is too out of the ordinary. The next day ‘A’ is in a new body and the owner of the previous day’s body is reinstated, albeit with a foggy memory of the day before. But, when ‘A’ wakes up in the body of Justin (Justice Smith) and meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon (Angourie Rice) that routine may not be so easy to stick to…
That’s a nifty high concept, originally a 2012 YA novel by David Levithan, and it’s one that works surprisingly well on the big screen. The plot isn’t necessarily the most cinematic seeming and yet, now its here, it’s immensely engaging. There are two primary reasons for that. Rice is understated and solid as Rhiannon. She’s our main focus, our reason for believing in ‘A’, and she does an excellent job at keeping proceedings (mostly!) plausible feeling. We feel for her when we observe the toxic relationship we have with Justin (either sympathsing or emphasizing depending on past relationship experiences….) and we root for things to work out with ‘A’, somehow. It’s an understated performance, and it needs to be considering how expansive a role her romantic interest has.
That’s the second reason the film works as well as it does – the consistency of the 15 actors performing as ‘A’. Those 15 may be of the same age but are a combination of male and female, races, sizes and personalities. Yet somehow they feel like the same person. When ‘A’ emerges each day in a new body it still feels like we’re welcoming back the same person – the quirks and endearing qualities of ‘A’ are apparent in each actor’s outing as ‘A’. Of the 15 takes on ‘A’ it’s that of Ian Alexander and Owen Teague that stand out. Both actors possess an incredibly watchable screen presence, along with a depth and quality of performance that suggest we’ll be seeing more of them in the future. Smith as Justin also deserves a mention as he perfectly portrays the crappy boyfriend trope to the extent that so the familiarity may cause unwelcome flashbacks of personal experience…
Within this fantastical element there is a core of realism too. Many important issues are also explored; mental health, family dynamics, depression, suicide, toxic relationships and friendship to name but a few. A sweet section in the later part of the film involves Owen Teague incarnation of ‘A’. When not ‘A’ he is Alexander, a boy who goes to Rhiannon’s school but one she never got to know. When ‘A’ describes the discoveries they’ve made about Alexander they say ‘He’s not the kind of kid built for high school. He’s built for what’s next.’ It’s a touching moment in a film littered with them.
It’s not a perfect film, it’s slightly overlong and stumbles into being too saccharine that bit too often, and it doesn’t have all that much to appeal to those outside of the teen market. What it is, however, is a very well made teen movie that deserves some attention and acknowledgment.
Scr: Jesse Andrews (adaptation) David Levithan (novel)
Cast: Angourie Rice, Justice Smith, Michael Cram, Maria Bello, Owen Teague, Ian Alexander.
Prd: Anthony Bregman, Peter Cron, Christian Grass, Paul Trijbits
DOP: Rogier Stoffers
Music: Elliott Wheeler
Runtime: 97 minutes
Every Day is in UK cinemas from the 20th April.