You’ve heard it before. A guy is down on his luck and dealing drugs is the only obvious option. But then the deal goes awry and luck is all that’s left for the guy to count on because he’s lost everything of his own and must somehow recoup a thug’s share of the pie if he expects to live another day with two healthy kneecaps and all ten of his fingers. Alexander Davidowski’s Before Last Night is another telling of the story tweaked in such a way that it actually feels fresh.
Eli (Tyson Hooser) is the proverbial guy in trouble. On his first job for the Boss (Jimmie Jennings), he loses his package but he doesn’t remember how. Backtracking his steps from a wild night previous, Eli tries to figure out exactly what happened and what he’s going to do about the Boss.
The film spends a lot of time in transition. While it doesn’t do a lot to forward the story, it does do a good job at establishing a harsh personality for life on the streets without delving into urban thugs and drugs seen in a of direct-to-video affairs. Rather Before Last Night has its foot in something that seems real, thanks in large part to its main character. It’s in the small moments that the film establishes some of its greatest strengths.
This is also where the weakest scenes standout as well. While many of the small transition scenes are good from a setting and mood standpoint, there are times when I found them to be a little too numerous. Particularly in the middle third of the film I felt things start to drag.
I wanted a better sense of Eli’s desperation. Instead of talking about the horrible job he quit, a short shot of him at the job would have gone a lot further in establishing his lifestyle. The same could be said for his mother being in the hospital. Rather than a quick chat on the phone and a little expository dialogue, I could have had a lot more sympathy for Eli. By not seeing his hardships, it’s a lot harder to be drawn into Eli’s life. Before Last Night tries to go beyond the common and oft told tale of a drug deal gone wrong by looking beyond its yarn. Writer/director Davidowski makes a valiant effort in looking further into the soul of his characters and in turn making a familiar story deeper and more believable.
While the intentions are there and the execution and vision commendable, Before Last Night has a certain something missing that would have made realizations rather than intentions. Even still, Davidowski has done a great job in taking an over-told story and making it a worthwhile indie picture.