Tag Archives: Zoey Deutch

Before I Fall

It’s cupid day. High school student Sam, goes to school with her friends, where they all receive some mystery roses, plan for Sam to lose her virginity to boyfriend Rob later that night, and hit up a party where they drink, predictably taunt an unpopular girl. Then they get in a car and drive home. Only they don’t make it. There’s an accident, and when Sam wakes up…it’s the morning of the same day again. Cupid day is getting the Groundhog Day treatment.

MV5BNGI2ZjQ0MGUtZTQyYS00ZjNkLTg4NjctY2U1Yjg1Y2Y3MzBiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU4MjYzMjk@._V1_By the third day she’s trying to live differently, to do things “right.” But even when she manages to avoid the accident, she still wakes up on the same morning and lives the same day. Sam (Zoey Deutch) is half right. Her ‘perfect’ life is a mystery that needs unraveling, and she’ll have to start questioning everyone and everything in it before she can begin to make adjustments. Sounds predictable, doesn’t it? I didn’t think much more highly of the book, so I wasn’t exactly in a rush to see this movie.

It’s not bad, it’s just not meant for me. This is a story intended for young adult audiences, and I guess that makes me an old adult. I’ve seen the real Groundhog Day. I remember how it counterbalances its existential angst with dark humour. This one takes itself very seriously, so it dips into melodrama, the familiar milieu of so many high school soaps. And you know, forgive me for this massively unfair comparison, but Zoey Deutch is no Bill Murray. It’s hard to make repetition feel cinematic. Feel anything but boring. But for Murray, even a twitch of the eyebrow can make a scene feel transformative. In the case of Before I Fall, Deutch doesn’t even feel well-cast as a high school student (she’s 24, but seems older than her same-age castmates). And the voice over is really just a big stick with which to beat us over the head with the message, which the director apparently does not trust to absorb otherwise. It’s actually not that deep. I think we would have managed, but now we’ll never know, unless tomorrow she wakes up and has to make this movie over again and again until she gets it right. Let’s just hope I’m not stuck in my own time loop, having to watch them.

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Rebel In The Rye

J.D. “Juvenile Delinquent” Salinger gets thrown out of schools just to piss his father off. It’s his mother who encourages him to enroll in a writing class, while his dad doubts there’ll be a single paycheque in his future. In his writing program he meets professor Whit Burnett, a hard-ass he grows to love. “Jerry” writes because he’s angry and he needs to express it somehow. Burnett shows him how to do this without alienating his reader. He’s also the one who encourages him to turn Holden Caulfield into a novel, and the one who worries him when he goes off to war.

Salinger (Nicholas Hoult) returns from war a better writer perhaps, but messed up in other ways, unsurprisingly. Catcher In The Rye is an enormous hit. That messes him up lead_720_405too. I wondered how I’d come to miss this movie, with notable subjects and stars, but I didn’t have to wait long to figure out the why if not the how: Kevin Spacey. He co-stars as the beleaguered, bloated professor, which means the accusations against him would have left the producers scrambling, and they buried it in a shallow Hollywood grave.

But to be fair, Spacey’s involvement isn’t the film’s only problem. It’s too neat, too well-packaged, perhaps even too kind to the author, who no doubt was an interesting, tortured recluse. Hoult is fine as Salinger, and he plays well against the likes of Sarah Paulson, Zoey Deutch, and even Spacey. But this is a pretty ordinary, banal biopic that’s a little starry-eyed about its subject, which dilutes its power and keeps us at arm’s length from the real artist, a man who loved writing but gave it up to live privately, to meditate for his mental health, and to avoid press at all costs.

It’s also, if we’re being honest, hard to reconcile a beloved and important work with so much pain. This movie is both too much (too broad) and not enough (no depth). Rebel in the Rye is more like Mediocre at the Movies.

Set It Up

Two harried, 20-something assistants work for different demanding bosses in the same Manhattan building. Harper (Zoey Deutch) admires her boss, Kirsten (Lucy Liu), who is a sports reporter. Harper wants to be a writer too but so far she spends her days fetching lunch and racking up steps on Kirsten’s fitbit. Charlie (Glen Powell) is eagerly awaiting his promotion but is still just Rick’s (Taye Diggs) overworked assistant. When Harper and Charlie meet in the lobby of their building, they determine that the only way to free themselves from the shackles of serfdom is to set up their bosses romantically. And it works!

The catch is – and you won’t believe this – Harper and Charlie fall in love themselves while orchestrating this love match between their bosses. Who would have thought (other than every single one of you, plus your grandmas, plus the ghosts of your grandmas’ mid-century pet parakeets).

Set It Up is the original Netflix film billed as the rom-com to save all rom-coms. Were rom-coms an endangered species? The good ones seem all but extinct. And I’m not sure this one changed my mind about that. But it’s not terrible. It’s not as cornball cheesy as these things tend to be. The stars are charming and dripping with chemistry. But itMV5BYmQyM2Q0NzgtZTAxNi00OTk3LTg4NjItM2E2YmE5MGM5YWI2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc5OTMwOTQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1499,1000_AL_ (1) doesn’t have a unique voice or anything that super sets it apart. It’s comfort food:  the kind of mac and cheese you might bring to a potluck. Not gourmet. Not lobster mac. Not truffle mac. It probably doesn’t even have gouda. But it’s warm and creamy and just gooey enough to convince you you want it. Rom-coms are predicable almost by definition. We know they’re going to get together; the “fun” is in how they get together.

Zoey Deutch is cute and glowing and perky and seemingly born to be the quirky, sweet romantic lead (her mother is Lea Thompson). Glen Powell, who previously played and has the smug, handsome face of an astronaut, is a good match for her, although he’s the matte paint to her gloss. Tituss Burgess, in little more than a cameo, is high-impact nonetheless, and makes an excellent case for giving him a starring role, stat.  But I didn’t get a Tituss Burgess movie, I got two white actors with blindingly white smiles in roles I’ve seen dozens of times before, sometimes done better, and sometimes worse. That’s not a ringing endorsement of a movie, but ringing would be a bit over-the-top for a movie you see coming from 95 miles away. This is a tepid endorsement in 12 point, Times New Roman, which is what it deserves and all I can give.

Flower

Erica is a reckless, ruthless high school student. She blows dudes in order to black mail them, and she’s saving up the dough for some future project that’s obviously pretty important to her. She’s used to being called a slut, and worse, and mostly she rises above, and copes by drawing dicks and not caring. You might think of her of the problem child her family and maybe she was – until her almost-step-father brings home her future-step-brother Luke, who’s been an unknown quantity in rehab this whole time.

Anyway, Erica (Zoey Deutch) is fully prepared to hate Luke (Joey Morgan) with all her guts, but instead she sort of takes pity on, MV5BMTU3NjQwNDQzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDE3NTYwMjI@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_and then awkwardly befriends, the guy. Their bonding is unorthodox, but what else do you expect from a movie in which Adam Scott is constantly referred to as “hot old guy” (he was born in 1973, fyi, if you’re trying to judge whether you should just slit your wrists right now or possibly way til the end of this review).

Flower is directed by Max Winkler, son of Henry Winkler. What drew him to the material, and how does he handle it?

Well he does one thing extremely right: he casts Zoey Deutch. I can’t think of many actresses who could handle Erica’s rebelliousness, her remorselessness and vulnerability. Deutch goes full tilt in a way that’s impressive. She sucks up all the attention and fills the screen like there’s a vacuum leading straight to her luminous face – her performance is so committed I could barely see around it. But looking back – this movie takes some unexpected, and perhaps unexplainable twists and turns. And to be honest, I guess I couldn’t really tell you what the whole point was. This movie is in theatres right now, in limited release. If you’ve seen it, we need to discuss. What the heck is the point?