Continuing the trend of young adult novels being adapted into small-budget films the latest offering in this increasingly crowded subgenre is “Every Day”, a big screen adaptation of Michael Sucsy’s 2012 novel of the same name. Exploring numerous different themes including love, existentialism, identity and the power of a personal connection over physical attraction “Every Day” is just creative and wonderous enough to avoid being lost in the shuffle of teen romance stories. But, how good is it as a film on its own? Let’s take a closer look in my review of “Every Day”.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
“Every Day” is a unique story about a shy high schooler named Rhiannon (Angourie Rice) who finds herself in a unique situation of being the object of affection for a unique person named A. A is a being that jumps from body to body every day (and for the sake of this review I’m going to call A a he). His hosts are always the same age as himself and never the same person twice and the new person is never far from the previous one. A cannot control who he becomes for the day and works to live a day for that person without disrupting their daily lives too much. When A becomes Rhiannon’s boyfriend Justin (Justice Smith) for a day he spends an afternoon with Rhiannon falling in love with her and spending days as other people trying to earn her affection and reveal to her the secret of his existence. As Rhiannon warms up to the idea she spends days with A, who is portrayed by a slew of young male and female actors. A urges her to make good changes for her life while Rhiannon inspires A to use his gift to help change lives rather than just simply live them. However, when A finds the perfect host, he and Rhiannon must come to terms with whether or not a future together could ever be possible.
Honestly there is only one real prominent actor in this movie and that’s Angourie Rice, a relative newcomer who has been active on and off since 2009. This is her first major starring role and considering she has to react with many different people as if they were the same person she does a pretty good job. She’s a very convincing and honestly charming leading lady and while the script does her no justice Rice makes the best out of what she has to work with. She rides the line between popular chick and outcast to pretty much capture that perfect balance of a typical high school girl. Overall Rice was charged with acting as a very complex and emotionally scarred young woman who has to come to grips with a bizarre and unbelievable position of being infatuated with someone who is never the same person twice and how her romance with him effects the hosts’ actual lives. It’s not a simple role by any means and Rice proves she is capable and talented enough to carry all the weight that comes with such a character.
I can’t really pinpoint any specific actors that portray A as main parts of the film because, well, there’s a lot of them. But some highlight ones who portray A’s hosts are Justice Smith (as Rhiannon’s boyfriend Justin), Jacob Batelon (who also appeared alongside Rice in “Spiderman: Homecoming”), and Owen Teague who portrays the longest lasting form of A as Alexander. Credit goes to literally all of these actors as this means 15 actors and actresses at one point portray the same person, A, and manage to keep his personality, tone and mannerisms pretty consistent all the way through to the end. The most amazing part of this is that it is truly believable in the context of the film that someone is swapping from body to body. It never once feels like anyone is any different from the last in terms of their portrayal of A, but they each also have their own styles and personalities because A seeks to maintain their personal image to the world so that no one catches on. It’s odd to say, but the entire cast should be celebrated for bringing a single character to life as an ensemble. Some only appear for a few minutes, others for large segments of the film, but all of them bring A to life impressively while Rice herself acts as if she’s with the same person in every scene. “Every Day” is far from perfect, but the best part, the one pretty flawless part, is the consistency in the many performances that were required to bring A and Rhiannon’s relationship to life.
“Every Day” is one of those films where it works and doesn’t work for the same reason. In this case the movie’s original theme and social commentary on love are fantastic to watch, even if the ending kind of betrays itself and I’ll get to that in my negatives. For now, the positives and while the payoff might be lackluster the overall story proves to be a decent teen romance tale like few we’ve ever seen before that presents its viewers with a series of rather blunt message. Due to A’s lack of a true human form, seeing as he hops from body to body day after day and never the same body twice, his relationship with Rhiannon forces her to accept him for who he is as a person rather than what he looks like. For the most part this plays out respectfully with a wide array of actors and actresses of different races and body types all essentially becoming the object of Rhiannon’s affection as she learns to love A as a person rather than as an object. While the finale seems to throw all of this out the window, which again I’ll touch on later, the bulk of the film presents a tasteful and valuable lesson to the young target audience of the film that it’s not the outside that matters but who a person is on the inside that should be the true focus of one’s love.
The movie also has a smooth pace and at only an hour-and-a-half Rhiannon’s warming up to A’s reality and A’s jump from one person to another doesn’t feel erratic or rushed. While we only get to see portions of most of A’s days with Rhiannon they all blend together in a nice package making “Every Day” an easy viewing experience to embrace. It also downplays the mushy finer details often associated with teen romance dramas which, for me, a 28-years-old single man, I could appreciate however there’s still plenty here to satisfy most viewers if you knew what you were going in to see. We get moments of levity and deep conversations about the value of life and the impact one person can have on another without it all feeling heavy handed and it just might pack enough of an emotional and philosophical punch to make even the harshest cynical viewer take a look at their own outlook of the world. All-in-all it’s a smooth story that’s just original enough to be engaging and engrossing which deserves some credit.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
While I praised the bulk of “Every Day” for driving home a message of loving a person beyond their looks and changing the world for the better the finale betrays ALL of that and essentially erases much of the heavy social themes viewers had been littered with for most of the film. When A finally finds himself in the body of someone who is Rhiannon’s “type” he has the chance to try and remain someone she would actually date. While the film could have made a very powerful statement here with Rhiannon revealing all she had learned about love to A at that moment, instead it takes a less than stellar turn to make both A and Rhiannon feel shallower than they should ever have been. While this does come around to offer some satisfying and great insight into how a relationship between the main characters would truly work and culminates in an emotional exchange between A and Rhiannon about how they will move forward it still seems to betray the noble message of love beyond looks that the story had going for it the whole time especially when both A and Rhiannon become a little too comfortable with the situation.
Aside from that I’m sad to say that as much as I did enjoy “Every Day” it doesn’t do quite enough to escape the predictable nature of teen romances. It’s a unique premise with a lot to offer, but it leans on a LOT of genre clichés with only the unique premise and charming performances helping it stand out. In lesser hands this film could have been a train wreck and while it’s far from unwatchable it still felt like a typical teen romance pandering to certain emotional triggers and a certain blandness in the script with typical one-liners mixed in with a few snappy lines that balance things out. I can admit that “Every Day” gave me those same butterflies I used to enjoy as a younger man when I’d go with girls to see these films and think about how I could balance my life to match the fantasy on screen, which is an emotional response I seldom get at 28 due to my more mature and critical look at the art. Even in that moment of nostalgia however, “Every Day” still felt formulaic which, I guess, is to be expected when the film is based on a teen romance novel after all.
“Every Day” was a mixed bag for me. It was charming at times, but in the end it felt like it betrayed itself and the noble messages it sent about having an impact on the lives around you and looking inward not outward for a connection with a person. However, as much as I wanted to give this film a middle-of-the-road grade I just couldn’t overlook the fact that I enjoyed more than I hated. The ride, for the most part, was very satisfying with a unique premise and a slew of young actors and actresses, including Angourie Rice in the lead role, holding the story high above their shoulders to give it substance. Despite my criticisms “Every Day” was able to garner a rare emotional response from me and even days after seeing the movie I still look back fondly on the story. In my opinion it provides a satisfying love story, even with a flawed ending, and It’s a lot better than it probably deserved to be as a teen romance flick. It’s a film I recommend and a deep one at that with a lot to say and despite its flaws it’s a solid picture worthy of a watch.