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Featured DVD Review: Before I Disappear

May 17th, 2015

Before I Disappear - Buy from Amazon: DVD

Good Kill

Before I Disappear opened in limited release and Video on Demand last November, which is the heart of Awards Season. Despite earning a number of awards in various Film Festivals, its reviews were not Award-worthy and the competition led to its quick disappearance at the box office. Now that it is on the home market, is it worth checking out? Or would the film have struggled no matter when it was released?

The Movie

The film begins with Richie in his tub while we hear the note he wrote to his girlfriend, Vista, who disappeared recently. We then flashback to Richie doing his job. He's a janitor in a dive bar and in the toilets is a women dead of an overdose. His boss, Bill makes sure he's okay, but also makes sure the authorities don't find out what happened. Seeing this dead woman made it clear to him that his girlfriend is probably dead and that's a thought he can't take. So when he gets home, he tries to commit suicide by slitting his wrists and sitting in a tub. He is interrupted by his sister, Maggie, who begs him to pick up her daughter, Sophia, after her recital. He's not very coherent at this point, but he does agree.

After stopping the bleeding and cleaning himself up, Richie heads off to Sophia's school. After the recital, they meet for the first time in years. Maggie gave Richie their password, so she agrees to go with him. Or to be more accurate, she barks orders at him. She has to be at gymnastics in 27 minutes, or there will be hell to pay. Afterwards, she has to be home by exactly 7 pm, or there will be hell to pay. He manages to not screw this up. Furthermore, he connects with his niece giving him a new lease on life. Just kidding about the last part. He actually feels worse and decides to try and kill himself again.

Richie decides to go with an overdose, because it won't leave a mess. Again, he doesn't get far before he's interrupted by a call, this time it's the man he owes money to. He demands $800 by tonight, but Richie says he'll have it tomorrow. Granted, that's an easy promise to make, as Richie plans to be dead by tomorrow. After telling off the guy he owes money to, Richie gets another call. This time it's Sophia. Her mother hasn't come home yet and she's getting scared, so Richie heads over there to look after her till her mother comes home. There's a strange woman waiting outside of Maggie's apartment, but when Richie asks her name, she leaves. Later Maggie finally calls... from jail. At first she just wants Richie out of the apartment and out of their lives. However, when Richie tells Maggie about the woman waiting for her, Maggie panics. She tells Richie he has to sneak Sophia out of the apartment and to make sure that woman doesn't see them.

So with that, Richie and Sophia have to navigate the night together and their first stop is spoiler territory.

While watching Before I Disappear, I couldn't help but be reminded of Liars Fires And Bears, which I previously reviewed. In fact, I couldn't help but be reminded of a lot of films. The pairing of a adult man who hasn't grown up yet and a young girl who is wise beyond her years is hardly a new idea. There is an additional connection between this film and Liars is their origins. They both started out as short films, this one is based on the Oscar-winning Curfew. That said, almost all romantic comedies follow the same basic plot, so you can't dismiss a film just for being similar to other movies.

Does the movie do anything to stand out? Or is it at least a good example of this type of movie? The answers to those questions are "Not really" and "Sort of". The film goes into darker territory starting with a man trying to kill himself and continuing throughout the night and even the interrupted suicide angle is hardly unique. The Skeleton Twins used a very similar starting point. On the positive side, Shawn Christensen and Fátima Ptacek do have good chemistry and and the supporting cast add a lot to the movie. I just wish the script had more to it; it needed more to justify its feature-length running time.

The Extras

There are no extras on this DVD. This is strange, as it is based on a short film and it would have been nice to see it.

The Verdict

Before I Disappear is not as bad as its Tomatometer Score would indicate, but it isn't as good as the number of Film Festival awards it received. It is the feature-length debut for Shawn Christensen as director and I'm interested to see what he can do next. On the other hand, Fátima Ptacek is one of the people I've encountered the most as a critic. (She's the voice of Dora the Explorer and I've lost track of how many of those DVDs I've reviewed.) This is the first time I've seen her and not just heard her and I'm impressed by her acting talent. The featureless DVD is only worth a rental.

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Filed under: Video Review, Before I Disappear, Ron Perlman, Emmy Rossum, Shawn Christensen, Isabelle McNally, Fatima Ptacek