Runtime: 98 Minutes
Writer/Director: Eric Schaeffer
Stars: Annabella Sciorra, Robert Klein, Willie Garson, Andrea Navedo, Craig Bierko
By Bianca Garner
On the poster for “Before I Go” we are posed with the question “At What Point Do You Stop Caring”? This is the dilemma that Samantha (Annabella Sciorra) finds herself in. Once a successful musician, Samantha has reached a point in her life where she’s faced with a midlife crisis of sorts. She finds other people annoying, getting into petty fights and arguments over little things such as being in the wrong queue at the grocery store or nearly getting hit crossing the road because the driver is checking their phone. She’s also struggling with bigger issues which include finding love in her fifties, her hoarder father (Robert Klein) and the anniversary of her mother’s death. We join Samantha as she tries to find some meaning in her life and tries to find some sort of pleasure before she decides to go. However, her lack of enthusiasm and motivation makes it difficult to reconnect with her sense of empathy, which as someone who struggles with depression, I really related to. There are times where you feel so disconnected from your mind and body that you feel like a zombie.
At the core of this film is a beautiful and tender story of a father and daughter trying to overcome their grief. Klein gives a tremendous performance as this old hippy boomer who is trying to outrun his own childhood trauma by collecting everything he comes across, whether it random bits of junk being sold on the street. The interactions between Samantha and her father are really sweet and cute, and even though Samantha struggles to understand why her father is holding onto so much clutter, she still cares about him deeply.
Writer and director Eric Schaeffer, paints a beautiful and detailed picture of the different stages of grief and has clearly researched into the concept of inherited trauma. There’s one moment where Samantha reveals to a complete stranger about her father’s own tragic past and it such a powerful scene that really hit close to home for me. Without giving anything away, the story behind the death of Samantha’s mother was another reveal that really connected with me and was a great reflection on the way grief can leave such a lasting impression on all of us. Schaeffer’s writing and the actors performances manage to carefully balance the film’s more serious moments with comedy, and the revelations that occur never feel forced or unreal in the world of the characters.
“At the core of this film is a beautiful and tender story of a father and daughter trying to overcome their grief.”
“What makes “Before I Go” so refreshing is the fact that Samantha is such a well-developed character, who isn’t exactly likeable but you can’t help but find her no bullsh*t attitude highly amusing and at certain times very courageous.”
What makes “Before I Go” so refreshing is the fact that Samantha is such a well-developed character, who isn’t exactly likeable but you can’t help but find her no bullsh*t attitude highly amusing and at certain times very courageous. Sciorra delivers an extraordinary performance and it’s great to see a great role for an actress over the age of 50 (something that Hollywood hardly ever delivers on the big screen). We fully buy into the concept that this is a woman who is on her last straw. There are many scenes where you can’t help feel sorry for her as people seem to be so obnoxious or downright rude towards her. There’s a brilliant moment where she is mistaken for being a film star (even though she’s just being an extra in a CSI type show) by an aspiring actor who seems to take out all his insecurities out on her. There is another superb scene where Samantha has a date that doesn’t go exactly according to plan, and she’s so rude to the guy who seems to react to her a bit too well and thinks she’s just performing this role.
There’s definitely a few flaws in this film. At times the plot meanders along without any real purpose, and this can be a little frustrating at times as some themes and issues are exactly explored in further detail or depth. The character of Samantha can be very hard to like at times, and other characters are introduced rather too quickly and they aren’t always developed as well as they could have been. However, this is a very fine film which I believe many of us will find relatable in this time and day. As Schaeffer puts it in his own words, “My hope is that this film serves to inspire hope in those who identify with the struggles of Annabella’s character, Samantha. More than ever, feeling a part of rather than apart from is something we all need.” I completely agree with his statement, there is hope here and I didn’t realise how much I needed this film. I was left in fits of laughter as well as fits of tears. It’s been a real highlight of this year. Please do seek it out.
Before I Go is available on: iTunes, Vimeo, Amazon, GooglePlay, Vudu, Fandango Now, and Vimeo, and all major cable platforms. DVD retailers will include Amazon and other major online retailers. Canadian cable providers include Rogers and Shaw.