Before We Go, the directorial debut by Chris Evans, leaves me a bit conflicted. While overall the film never manages to impress, Evans shows signs of a director with a good eye and sense of solid storytelling being held back by the material.
The story centers on Nick Vaughan (Evans) and Brooke Dalton (Alice Eve) and their unlikely relationship. Nick, a musician in New York for an audition, is passing time in Grand Central Station when he meets Brooke. While rushing to catch the train back to Boston she drops her cell phone and it shatters at the feet of Nick. He returns what’s left of the phone as we learn she has missed her train and, because her purse was stolen, is now stranded in New York. Nick spends the night trying to get her back to Boston before her husband returns home in the morning. A budding romance builds as they share their personal struggles and fears with each other.
Evans and Eve on screen together certainly make for a ridiculously good looking couple but the relationship never quite feels strong enough to justify buying in to it. It’s a shame too because Evans is charming (if not a little flat) and Eve clearly shows moments of what Brooke could have been. One scene in particular, while telling Nick why she needs to get back home so quickly, brings out real emotion from Eve and I truly felt for her character…but it wasn’t enough throughout the entirety of the film to really make me invest in like I should. To say it was a little uneven would be an understatement but for all the things the film gets wrong, there are moments that are very well done.
Style wise you can definitely tell that this was an independent film with a modest budget. With that said, Evans and cinematographer John Guleserian chose and framed shots beautifully that tended to enhance the storytelling. Certain devices used, like framing shots outside of buildings looking in at characters, while the dialogue was spoken and then mixed with closer shots of the actors worked really well. As the film is shot almost entirely at night it brought with it the opportunity for some really beautiful camera work and the film delivered.
While far from a perfect film, Before We Go isn’t a bad film. Clearly it could be improved but Evans shows he’s got a keen eye and it will be interesting to see where his directing talents take him over the next few years. Give this, his debut behind the camera, a shot.