As Tessa Scott (Fanning) bravely deals with leukemia, opting to stop treatment leaving her with mere months to live, she makes a list of things she wants to do before it is too late. Amongst the varied things on her depressingly early bucket list are shop lifting, taking illegal substances but at top of the list is to have sex and young Tessa realises her virginity isn’t quite as easy to lose as she first suspected. Meanwhile, Tessa’s over protective dad (Considine) and her unreliable mother (Williams) must deal with the inevitable loss in their own way. To further complicate matters is Adam (Irvine), the boy quite literally next door, who takes a shine to Tessa. But with time running out will she be able to fall in love with Adam knowing what limited future they’ll have together? This is further complicated by Adam’s having to deal with a tragic loss of his own, is he able to commit to someone he knows he will also lose?
Clearly not part of the key demographic for a film taken from a young adult’s book about a 17 year old girls idea of true love conquering all, this was a very glossy Brighton & Hove based film that hardly engaged the emotions of a thirty something reviewer.
However thanks to subtle heart wrenching performances by Considine and Williams it is difficult to not get at least a wee bit caught up in the drama by the end. Plus it is hard not to like a dad when he threatens to kill her daughter’s first would-be suitor simply as a warning for others.
Based on Jenny Downham’s novel Before I Die, this is an ever so slightly sugar coated tale of life, death and making the most of every minute. With a tween audience in mind and a jazzy animated opening sequence backed by a Lana Del Ray track every element feels like a 12A/PG-13 take on reality. Aside from a shocking moment during pre-date jitters and the inevitable final scenes Fanning hardly looks that unwell with a predictably cinema friendly version of a debilitating disease. So rather than focus on the diminishing health of the teen, her budding romance is where most of the running time is spent which will be a struggle for many cold hearted middle aged grumps to endure.
Fanning is great as the snarky teen complete with a decent English accent, although it does sound a tad out of place compared to her mother and father’s different regional tones. Dashingly handsome Jeremy Irvine continues his journey to R-Patz levels of heart-throb-dom with Scodelario as the promiscuous best friend Zoey also worthy of a mention for making the most of a limited supporting role.
Writer/director Ol Parker has a made a film that hasn’t got the most appealing of topics to guarantee box office success but he has crafted a decent enough drama with a modicum of tear jerking moments.
In conclusion, a well performed but rose tinted movie about death that should give the youngsters something to sob about.
2 out of 5 stars
Source: Ultimate Reviews