‘Before I’m Dead’ tells the story of Nolan, a man suffering from agoraphobia after a tragic event. However, a cosmic event changes everything in his life.
Directed by: J.R. Sawyers.
Starring: J.R. Sawyers, Camille Montgomery, Denise Boutte, Gary Klavans, Jerry T. Adams, Stephaun Pender, Mark Taormino, Joy Ireland, Ricky Jones, Jerry T. Adams, Steven Robert ReMalia, Mackenzie Flick, Aviv Bar-Tal.
Country: United States.
Genre: Science fiction, drama, thriller.
Running time: 83 minutes.
There’s an immediate question that rises when Before I’m Dead reaches its third and final act. This question is far too important to forget and it’s automatic how it comes to be a desperate attempt at giving some shape to whatever’s trying to be explained: Was it necessary for Before I’m Dead to include this metaphysical puzzle of chance and possibility? After all a story must be driven by its characters and none of them seek this “way out”.
The script’s direction feels like a device that wasn’t as essential as it seems. Before I’m Dead is a flawed and uninteresting puzzling film that deals with a compelling conflict that’s ultimately undermined by a filmmaker’s personal show. J.R. Sawyers should be admired, but only because every film you write and direct, and star on, is definitely a feat. However, Before I’m Dead is an experiment that didn’t go so well.
A solution literally falls from the sky
Before I’m Dead tells the story of Nolan, a man distressed by his past. His wife has died in a mass shooting and he’s become reclused in his own home. Agoraphobia is the disease that haunts him day and night. In the confines of his home, he still chats with the ghost of his wife.
However, one night something falls from the sky, it causes a tremor in Nolan’s home and mysterious lights can be seen under the door. This is how Nolan’s journey begins. One that has plenty of hallucinations, strange noises coming from everywhere, and weird apparitions by other people inside his apartment.
When he tries to do something about it, he realizes time moves strangely in this place. Very strangely.
Intimate exploration of a tragedy
Nolan’s adventure takes place inside his own home and it consists mainly of camera effects, cellphone apps going awry, and a final understanding of the interpretation of time. There’s nothing else in Before I’m Dead,as the film never tries to reveal what’s really happening here and why. Maybe it’s a matter of interpretation. I just think everything is orienting us towards the ending.
The problem with the film is it feels naive in some places. Plot holes galore and we’re not supposed to ask too many questions just because the film is “that kind of movie where things happen due to some strange force”.
Was it supposed to make sense?
Indie films must evaluated in a specific framework. I considered this when watching Before I’m Dead. The problem with the film lies in the inability to solve everything with the small artifacts it has at hand. I always say this: films should not require manuals. And in Before I’m Dead, a conservation with Sawyers seems to be only probably solution to our issue.
– The film’s attempt at associating a very real tragedy with some sort of desperate resource for manipulating time is not very original, but it’s always appreciated.
– The small dose of control the film has at the beginning is lost in favor of experimenting riskily with time travel, time loops and every possible exploration of time you can think of.
– Some acting classes could have helped enhance the dramatic performances.
– The film’s resolution is way too predictable. You always feel script is just an excuse for an optimistic, maybe happy ending.