If you’re like me, then just the idea of this film — the one being sold by the trailers and posters, anyway — would have been enough to keep you away. It looks like any number of other high-concept, sappily tragic teen romances where some poorly-thought-out sci-fi conceit keeps the plot moving just long enough for the kids to fall in love and break its spell so they can live happily ever after (or die, as the case may be with a lot of modern love stories stretching all the way back to at least Shakespeare). So the fact that Every Day is good, even great on certain levels, is not so much a surprise to me as it is a reminder that at this stage of the game I shouldn’t be letting a film’s advertising budget or bottom-line mass-appeal concerns sway me as much as they sometimes do before walking into the theater.
The conceit is pretty straightforward. A person wakes up every day in a different body. They can’t control who they’ll be and they never wake up in the same body twice. They are always a person their own age and are always in roughly the same location — usually the same town, but never more than an hour away from where they were the day before. We get some backstory filled in as to how long this has been going on, what it’s been like to live this way, and a lot of philosophizing about the nature of the self, etc. While I’m a sucker for this particular brand of silliness, it’s the direction the story eventually goes that really makes Every Day stand out.
As much as it’s about growing up and living life as a teenager in the 21st century — with all the normal baggage and emotional drama that entails — the more pressing concerns of the film are much more daring and subversive for what is nominally a mainstream romantic film aimed at teens. More overt than The Matrix or Being John Malkovich in its themes relating to the queer and trans experience, Every Day will, I hope, make its way into the canon of Great Gay Cinema. These elements — combined with an impressive cast of young actors able to keep up with the constantly rotating face of its main character and plot mechanics that actually make sense (insomuch as they even need to in a story like this) — make me hope as many people get out to this film as possible before it’s forced to give up valuable big screen real estate to the next big blockbuster.
The film also presents its thesis on human love and emotional connection with such a light, easy touch that this is exactly the type of cinema we should be offering the kids in the audience. Nothing is considered weird or cinematically taboo. And as much as I’m often loath to put forth this sort of thing, this is also exactly the right time and place for this film to come out.