Did you guess? The guessing is the main problem with Before The Dawn, in that it’s incredibly predictable. It’s not hard to figure out the story arc of a film about an inappropriate teacher/ student relationship. It all starts professional, gets a little flirty, a little sex, attempts to hide the relationship, and ultimately publicly outed. I don’t think anyone is going to be surprised by the events or outcomes of the story. The best storytellers must stay ahead of the audience, going left instead of right, keeping us off-balance, thinking the wrong person is the villain, and an unexpected ending.
I’ll give an example of a way to deepen the story. Lila is ultimately seduced by Jason, but why? Lila is established as a strong character, albeit escaping her past. What is it about her past that would allow her to succumb so easily to Jason’s charm? What need is being met? What is it about Jason, except for his good looks, that makes him worth risking her career over? The hookup between the two just feels like it serves the plot rather than the characters.
“Her romance with Jason is not as creepy as you’d think and gets super-steamy…”
Another weakness of the film is its inability to create the right amount of sympathy for the Lila. I’ll start this first by saying something happens to Lila near the end that is not her fault. That aside, Lila makes a massive lapse in judgment, and then everything that happens to the pair (except that one event) is of their own doing. As much as we like the Lila character, it’s hard to feel like she’s getting what she deserves (except for that one event). It’s hard not to think, “this could have all been avoided…”
Then again, maybe this is just supposed to be a love story. It’s not all bad. Alana de Freitas created a robust and charismatic character in Lila. She’s likable, and you really want the best for her. Her romance with Jason is not as creepy as you’d think and gets super-steamy, like a Harlequin novel or a Fifty Shades affair. As much as she must face the consequences of a wrong decision, we ultimately do root for her and want the best.
As far as being cinematic, the production values of Before the Dawn is exceptional. Aside from the two leads, the acting from supporting character is so-so and feels scripted. I could see Before the Dawn find a home on Lifetime. Clearly, the critical performances are between de Freitas and Scott, and the pair carries the film admirably.
"…it all starts professional, gets a little flirty..."