Chris Evans’ Directorial Debut, ‘Before We Go’ Features Plenty of Walking and Talking

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Within independent cinema exists a subgenre I like to call “the walking-talking indie.” These films have no greater external conflict or moments of violence, but simply two or more people walking the streets, typically of New York City, getting into various situations before learning more about themselves than they knew at the beginning. For his directorial debut, Chris Evans has chosen to dabble in the “walking-talking indie” with Before We Go, which sees Evans and Alice Eve wandering the streets of New York at night, building a bond while learning about one another. The film isn’t an exercise of tedium like so many other well-intentioned indie films, nor is it a particularly compelling film. Simply put, there’s a bit of charm in the frames of Before We Go, but the film will never leave you surprised in any regard.

The film opens with Nick Vaughan (Evans) busking in Grand Central Station with his trumpet. While he’s getting ready to call it a night, a young woman comes rushing by, her phone falling and breaking on the ground. She’s missed her train. As Grand Central Station closes, Nick tries to assist the stressed out woman who needs to get to Boston before the morning, but has had her purse stolen and now her phone broken. Not immediately trusting a stranger, she tells Nick that her name is Carrie, as in Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, before revealing her real name, Brooke Dalton (Eve). The two wander the streets of New York hoping to retrieve the stolen purse. Nick is dodging a wedding reception where his ex-girlfriend will be and Brooke is frantically trying to get home to save her damaged marriage. They run into a number of situations – some mildly quirky, some tragic, and some romantic.

Whether talking about Evans’ direction or the script by Ronald Bass, Jen Smolka, Chris Shafer, and Paul Vicknair, with Bass and Smolka earning a story by credit, Before We Go is a film that really plays it safe for the most part. Large sections of the film are literally pedestrian. Evans and cinematographer John Guleserian bring a hazy look to the nighttime streets of New York. The visuals, like much of the film, are nothing more than competent and inoffensive.

The mere reason that Before We Go works on any level at all is the chemistry between Chris Evans and Alice Eve. The duo take up a majority of the screen time and play off each other wonderfully. Their chemistry, however, makes you really wish that the script called for them to do a bit more than the film actually demands of their characters. But I wouldn’t dare call Before We Go a vanity project for Evans – it’s not as big or self-indulgent as true vanity projects. He obviously felt a connection to the material and somehow found the time to film it between his jam-packed schedule of Captain America films. There’s enough within Before We Go to suggest that Evans might find a niche as a very good director of actors, though he doesn’t bring much visual panache to coincide with the fine performances. If you go in with the modest expectations that this is a passable iteration of “the walking-talking indie,” Before We Go won’t disappoint. If you’re expecting anything more, you did it to yourself.

Before We Go is currently available on VOD and will open in select theaters on September 4th, 2015.

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