Zoe Deutch On Reliving High School in 'Before I Fall'

Zoe Deutch On Reliving High School in 'Before I Fall'

V sat down with the actor at the Sundance Film Festival to discuss her new film.

V sat down with the actor at the Sundance Film Festival to discuss her new film.

Photography: Sharif Hamza

Styling: Ellie Grace Cumming

Text: Joseph Akel

For most of us, the idea of reliving our days as a high school student for the rest of eternity is a nightmare come true (Heather Mooney, natch). But in director Ry Russo-Young’s film adaptation of Lauren Oliver’s YA novel, Before I Fall, this grim fantasy is brought to life. Following high school senior Samantha Kingston as she continually relives the same day leading up to a fatal car accident, the movie is equal parts Groundhog Day and Mean Girls. For Zoey Deutch, who plays the role of Sam, the part was an opportunity to return to a period often fraught with adolescent angst. “For many, high school is a period to be quickly gotten through,” Deutch notes. “But to be honest, I had a cool high school experience.” When pressed, however, on her most embarrassing memory from that time, Deutch is quick to acknowledge, “Everything was embarrassing in high school.” Case in point: she played Seymour in her high school staging of Little Shop of Horrors. “It was a transformative role,” she notes with a hefty dose of sarcasm.

Central to Before I Fall’s plot is the evolution of Sam’s character as she struggles to make sense of her new reality. “At the beginning of the film,” Deutch points out, “Sam’s just doing and acting the way everybody else is. She’s living her life unconsciously.” However, as the film unfolds, Sam is forced to examine the choices she makes and what actions might put an end to the cycle she finds herself trapped in—think The Butterfly Effect with a moral twist. “It’s a film that looks at a young woman questioning her mortality, her purpose, her meaning,” Zoey underscores. It’s only when Sam realizes her actions affect others, particularly in the context of bullying, that she is able to escape having to experience her own death ad infinitum. Asked if the film had a message for young women today, Deutch remarks, “You are greater than the sum of your flaws, and in turn, others are greater than the sum of their flaws.

ZOEY WEARS DRESS CÉLINE S/S ’17 BELT OLIVIER THEYSKENS

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