EVERY DAY (2018)
Director: Michael Sucsy
Cast: Angourie Rice, Justice Smith, Owen Teague, Debby Ryan, Maria Bello, Michael Cram, Lucas Jade Zumann, Jeni Ross, Amanda Arcuri, Rory McDonald, Katie Douglas, Jacob Batalon, Ian Alexander, Sean Jones, Colin Ford, Jake Sim, Nicole Law, Karena Evans, Hannah Alissa Richardson
MPAA Rating: (for thematic content, language, teen drinking, and suggestive material)
Running Time: 1:35
Release Date: 2/23/18
Review by Mark Dujsik | February 23, 2018
The gimmick of Every Day establishes a genuinely tricky metaphysical conundrum, so of course, the story of the movie reduces that complexity to its simplest, most melodramatic form: a tale of star-crossed lovers. This focus also adds a few tricky elements to the straightforward story, and they're ones that director Michael Sucsy simply glosses over, hoping that we'll be swept away by the tale of two minds connecting despite a fairly significant obstacle.
The obstacle is that one of the romantic partners essentially exists only as a disembodied consciousness, which passes from body to body every day at midnight. The entity, which calls itself "A," has never known a single physical form, but it has occupied a different body every day since it was born. The nature of A's birth is kept as mysterious as one would expect. If it had parents, it has long since forgotten them, since, theoretically, it only spent one day as a newborn baby in their presence. This is, of course, assuming that A went through a physical birth in the first place. It might as well have been created by some cosmological glitch in the natural order.
There comes a point while watching the movie that A's story and nature become of far more interest than its romance with Rhiannon (Angourie Rice), a fairly bland and insecure teenage girl who quickly accepts A's unlikely explanation for why a bunch of strangers keep trying to talk to her. She also falls for the entity that possesses the bodies of those strangers and, at times, her friends, primarily because she's currently dating an unappreciative, self-involved jerk. You think you raise your kid right, and then, not only does she get into a relationship with an inattentive cad, but also she winds up falling for the first supernatural being that compliments her smile.
This turns out to be one of the bigger hurdles for the movie to try to overcome. It never does, and Rhiannon is interesting only as far as her unique name. We learn nothing of her interests, a little about her dysfunctional family, and a lot about her willingness to accept a most ridiculous set of standards for a loving relationship. Maybe that's because she has no other interests and a dysfunctional family, but such matters are best left to someone else.
Even though she is the most prevalent physical presence in the movie, that's about all we know and need to know about Rhiannon, because A is the real concern for Sucsy and screenwriter Jesse Andrews (adapting David Levithan's novel). "Are you a boy or a girl," Rhiannon asks A, currently occupying a teenage boy's body while the couple is on a weekend getaway at a family cottage. Its reply is a simple, pointed, "Yes." What is A's responsibility to the consciousness of a body it's inhabiting? A tries to make the experience as painless as possible, going through the person's routines to the best of its ability. When a consciousness returns to control its own body, the person has no memory of that lost day.
Meanwhile, A has collected the memories of thousands of people throughout the course of its life. In a way, it almost seems like a decent tradeoff from a certain perspective—to receive a vast understanding of the thoughts and personalities of so many people, while everyone else is stuck with their own, routine lives.
The change in A's own routine comes when it occupies the body of Rhiannon's boyfriend Justin (Justice Smith) and decides to spend its day with the poor, unappreciated girl. This leads to a series of moral questions, such as whether or not it's wrong for A to take advantage of his borrowed identity for some intimate displays of affection, what kind of line A crosses to use Justin's body to get personal details from her, and if A's behavior to stay in contact with Rhiannon constitutes some metaphysical form of stalking. For sanity's sake, it's best not to linger on these thoughts.
The relationship itself is only as involving as its characters. While Rhiannon is pretty much a dead end in that department, we're left with A, whose presence is the biggest obstacle to making this material anything approaching romantic. The biggest issue is that A constantly changes physical forms, and there's little to A's personality that really unites any of the performances of the multiple actors who portray the disembodied entity. A isn't a character. It's a science-fiction gimmick. Making A the second half of a romantic relationship is a miscalculation, since the character only exists as the idea of its existence. There's little for these characters to talk about, save for A's nature—and Rhiannon's strange choice in romantic partners.
Is it possible for a movie to fail at its primary goal yet still have some unexpected value? Of course, it is, and that's the case with Every Day. The movie possesses a fascinating character, who represents an intrinsic exploration of identity, the responsibility that comes with such a unique power, and the nature of what makes us human. There's a lot of potential to A, and admirably, the movie eventually does try to grapple with that potential. It's a shame that the movie only scratches the surface to make way for a poorly conceived and executed romance.
Copyright © 2018 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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