Before I Go puts Annabella Sciorra in the lead role of a touching small film about a depressed woman. Annabella Sciorra is someone who should have had a huge career, in my opinion. I’m always delighted to see her in anything, especially taking a lead role.
Before I Go is about Samantha (Sciorra), who had a career as a singer as a younger woman. Now she’s doing dead end jobs in drug stores or delivering pizza. She’s quick to fight with everyone she meets and has decided life isn’t worth living. The film is set in New York City and is very New Yorkish. Places, foods, and attitudes are all NYC.
Samantha’s dad (Robert Klein) is a bit of a hoarder who always claims to be decluttering. He wants Samantha to go through a box of things he’s saved about her mother. She doesn’t want to touch it. She thinks her mother, who committed suicide at the same age Samantha is now, didn’t love her.
In Samantha’s apartment, on the other hand, the clutter is minimal. She has cardboard boxes on a shelf behind a curtain. The boxes have labels like Love, Music, God. The box labeled God is completely empty, but occupies a space on her shelf anyway. Old flyers for her gigs and cassettes of her singing are in the Music box. The Love box contains mostly photos of past loves and family. That’s the first box she throws away. Then she sells her piano. She’s getting ready to go.
A guy dressed as a priest (Justin Giegerich) that she confesses her depression to advises to look at everything really hard before she offs herself. She gives it a try.
Her co-star in this reexamination of her will to live is an earthworm. She rescues it repeatedly from its forays across the sidewalk. She puts it back in the flower bed it’s escaping from. She brings it banana peels and eggs shells and chases off the birds.
She goes on a date with Walt (Craig Bierko). She does a Gone with the Wind role play scene with oddball Francis (Willie Garson) from the coffee shop. She meets a teacher (Andrea Navedo) and her musically talented daughter (Ava Justin) who wants to learn to sing one of Samantha’s songs. She visits her father and finally looks inside the box about her mother.
Eric Schaeffer wrote and directed this character study. It’s low-key like its spiritless protagonist who turns to earthworms in her search for a reason to live. I thought it was a lovely film. Annabella Sciorra was terrific. I was with her all the way as she worked through epiphany after epiphany.
You can see this 2021 film on Prime Video.
3 responses to “Review: Before I Go, starring Annabella Sciorra”
I agree with you.. Sciorra is fantastic.It’s really nice to see an older actress getting the lead in an indie film like this. Though the film is a little downbeat ( there are some nice comic moments e.g.. the late Willie Garson) Sciorra keeps our interest throughout,thanks to a well- written script and memorable minor characters.
Yes, it was sad about Willie Garson.
This morning I decided to start my own religion based on watching seriously insightful movies instead of going to church. “Before I Go” is the first for my cannon. This might be called an anti-romantic comedy for everyone who does not find true love and has slightly above average intelligence. Also some seriously funny moments such as I seldom find even one is a so-called comedy.
Virginia DeBolt has here more than a review and more than a meticulous synopsis. Yes it needs to be said this is very NYC but aren’t they all? Whether it be NYC or Harry and Sally in Chicago or Sleepless in Seattle I am sick of them but liked this one and that says a lot. This film is unusual and you might say sort of a cure for the others. And the problem with this review is it is too perfect to need comments. But you say you want comments. So pardon me for piecing together pieces from comments to other reviews and my Facebook page. And I believe Virginia will agree with what I say. By the way if you come to southeast Vermont then let me know. I’ll take you to the best restaurant or rather the only half good restaurant.
This is not a can’t-stop-watching movie. But in this day and age we can watch 1/4 of a movie every few days. And that is more fun than the drug-like blockbuster high that is immediately over.
Detail #1 that most reviews miss is that her mom killed herself with a shotgun when she was young. Such trauma affects people differently. But there is really no cure or out-thinking for however it affects a person.
This film starts out our protagonist in a super demeaning job where she has to repeat slimy sales talk like a robot. But she later finds pride and tranquility, albeit lower paying, in pizza delivery. Which in real life is always just as demeaning. But the point is that this protagonist is no derelict. She is able to find suitable work. And not financially stressed nor bothered by the usual cliches of a has-been or lack of success. The point of dramatizing her previous success is not that she has failed potential–but the exact opposite. She knows from experience that she has a problem that success or relationships will not help and she refuses to follow such illusions. So if reviewers would have added more stars for typically promoting such Hollywood illusions then such reviewers are missing the point.
The plot pieces are unreal but entertaining and the basic feelings unusually real. Like the embarrassment of realizing one has been rambling to someone who could not possibly comprehend what one is saying. Like irrationally over-reacting. This is how real people behave in real life though seldom in movies. Those who label this as just another mid-life crisis are just not listening. Or are themselves chasing the usual cliche carrots of career and success. That lead to the cliche midlife crisis. The character in this film knows better than that. And finds very uplifting moments and human contacts. And it is not enough and will never be enough. And unlike most people she knows it.
Plenty of people at the peak of success end up like Anthony Bourdain. The point of this film is that some people are a little bit broken. And that it is a mistake to think this will be fixed by money or fame or drugs or relationships or Hollywood endings. I suspect this film could have gone farther in finding possible answers. But the ending is ingenious for those who are able to understand it.
It is usual for many people to fuss over a bird or a bug. Or even a mouse caught half alive in their own mouse trap. Fussing over a worm is unusual but is not weird for those who have that capacity. On the contrary. Replacing the usual bird or puppy with a worm is what elevates the entire event into a profound statement. Firstly, how can anyone find real happiness in a city where even a worm cannot find enough space between the trees and the concrete? Are we not all that worm? And then read what it says on the box in the end. It is brilliant.
I suspect something more could be added to this film. But maybe not. And it probably will take a few years for this worm to fuss this out.
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