Teen romance is sort of my achilles heel genre of film, if only because it’s a throwback to a lot of the films I liked as a child. Still, the genre of films like this, especially those of literary adaptions, are really starting to get better and better, with movies like “Before I Fall” and “The Spectacular Now” being unafraid and unapologetic in their portrayals, however stylish, of modern teen life. “Every Day” is another film in this genre from author David Levithan, adapted by Jesse Andrews and directed by Michael Sucsy. It’s also the first film produced and released by the revamped Orion Pictures, but does this continue the strong work the genre has seen in the past few years, or does it transpire into trite territory once again, delegitimizing the genre once more?
Rhiannon (Angourie Rice) is a 16-year-old girl living in Maryland. She has a normal life for the most part, with a strong relationship to her older sister, Jolene (Debby Ryan), a strained relationship with her parents (Maria Bello and Michael Cram), a good circle of friends, and a popular, if uncaring boyfriend in Justin (Justice Smith). One day, Justin begins to exhibit more loving behavior towards Rhiannon, with a wonderful day at the beach that brings them closer than ever. The next day, Rhiannon discovers Justin to be back to his normal self, not remembering the events of the previous day. Soon, Rhiannon discovers that Justin was overtaken by an entity named “A”, a person who wakes up in a different body every day; always the same age, in the same area, but never the same person. While Rhiannon doesn’t believe this at first, she soon finds herself enamored with “A”, and all the different diverse bodies that she finds them in. Rhiannon and “A” must find a way to balance their young love with something logical and unintrusive before it’s too late.
Rice is a complete revelation as Rhiannon. Rice has shined in a few notable supporting roles in the past, but never as a leading lady, and she makes every moment of her time front and center here. She has a giddy presence that makes her more emotional scenes heartwrenching to see. The balance she plays off makes her character an incredibly sympathetic, but entirely human presence, with flaws and all. “A”, on the other hand, is played by a variety of actors, including but not limited to Smith, Jacob Batalon, Lucas Jade Zumann, Ian Alexander, Colin Ford, Jake Sim and Owen Teague, and the synthesis these actors find between the singular presence that is “A”. Never once did I feel any difference in the character between the countless bodies “A” inhabited, nor did I ever feel that there were any discrepancies between them either. It’s a really interesting take on a singular love interest that really elevates the film to a special level.
Directed by Michael Sucsy, of “The Vow” fame, “Every Day” isn’t as visually stunning as something like “Before I Fall,” but the story itself doesn’t necessarily lend itself to that in the same way. This is a polished, attractive digitally captured movie that, while nothing spectacular, captures the essence of young love in a dreamy and stylish light that a lot of the strongest films in this genre do very well. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any way, but it’s a strong showing.
If there’s anything “Every Day” doesn’t do well, it would be in a few moments of dialogue. The film oftentimes takes easy roads out of some conversations and it occasionally might feel a little stilted, but for the most part, this is a strongly written film that only struggles in some smaller moments.
One of the best elements about this film though comes not from its dialogue, but from the messages it spreads. Love takes shape in all different shapes and sizes, and to fight it for superficial reasons defeats the point of love. Rhiannon finds love with “A” when she’s a white guy, or a black girl, or a transgender boy, or a bigger boy, or a skinny girl. “Every Day” has a diverse showing of characters that might not always be the typical “love interest” archetype one might associate in a teen romance film, and I really loved that element of it. It’s not about who you are or what you identify as, love is about the connection, not the physics.
And on top of that, “Every Day” is a believable love story. So many teen romance films rely on what teens would want in a relationship, but “Every Day” does the opposite in subjecting its characters to a form of love that is infinitely harder to maintain, and the lengths they’ll go to to uphold it. It’s a terrible situation to be in, but one that involves the audience in a really unique way that makes the final effect one of incredibly palpable emotion and hope. It’s a beautiful way of twisting romance into something a bit more challenging, even if it is fantastical.
“Every Day” is a strong, and very surprising, addition to the teen romance genre of film. It’s not game changing thematically, but the way in which it uses its diverse cast of all people to portray love as something worth fighting for without worrying about the identity of it all, it becomes a profoundly moving and very engaging love story that is surprisingly subtle and quiet. It has wonderful moments of humor, really heartbreaking scenes of sadness, and moral questions bout the lengths one will go to for love that are as challenging as they are poignant. This isn’t an easy film to unpack, nor do I think it should be, but with solid direction, some killer performances and a heart as pure as the sun, “Every Day” is a film that would’ve inspired a new generation of hopeless romantics had it gotten the publicity it deserves. It’s so much more than any promotional material might lead you to believe.
Directed by: Michael Sucsy
Starring: Angourie Rice, Justice Smith, Owen Teague, Lucas Jade Zumann, Jacob Batalon, with Debby Ryan, and Maria Bello.
Runtime: 95 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for thematic content, language, teen drinking, and suggestive material.
Orion Pictures presents, a Likely Story/Filmwave production, in association with Silver Reel Pictures, a Michael Sucsy film, “Every Day”