All the Days Before Tomorrow
All the Days Before Tomorrow (2007)
★ / ★★★★
Wes (Joey Kern) and Alison (Alexandra Holden) are late twenty-somethings who had the possibility of sharing something more but they ultimately settle for being friends–nothing more–because the circumstances that surround them are never quite right. Wes is woken up by a telephone call from Alison who suggests meeting and catching up before her flight to Tokyo the following morning. Wes agrees, albeit reluctantly, because they have not seen each other for a year. Then the film presents two flashbacks: one from two years ago when Wes and Alison first meet in Canada and one from a year ago during their road trip across a desert.
“All the Days Before Tomorrow,” written and directed by François Dompierre, is supposed to be romantic but it fails to grab my interest by overturning, even in the most minute ways, what is to be expected within its sub-genre. It relies on us, on our own experiences, to make assumptions about whatever the central are supposed to have (or not have) and or feel (or not feel) in their “relationship.” We might as well be staring at a mirror. It is not specific in terms of what it wishes to convey. There is a lot of whining, a trial to sit through.
I liked Wes; he is a bit reserved, has a laid-back attitude but never disinterested, and he knows how to respect other people’s space. On the other hand, Alison is very annoying. She loves to talk about her ex-boyfriends and how much fun she had with them, she touches everything that captures her attention (and lacks the common sense to put the objects back to their respective places), and most of the things that come out of her mouth are either lacking in tact or are completely offensive. She considers herself as “honest”; I thought she was foolish, rude, and lacking in self-esteem.
Perhaps the point is they are opposites and, according to the saying, opposites tend to attract. But not in this case. The guy is charming and has genuine insight. He deserves better than a woman who is vapid and inconsiderate. When Alison notices that one of Wes’ habits is putting moisturizer on his face, she calls him a metrosexual; in her own words: that he is “gay but likes women.” I caught myself rolling my eyes and scoffing at her because it is clear she has no idea what she is talking about. She also has other put-downs directed to the guy who she supposedly considers her friend. For example, she claims that it is impossible to take good pictures of him. Did it occur to her that maybe she is just no good behind the camera?
Never mind my problems with Alison. The film starts gratingly awkward and it ends pretty much the same way. Despite the flashbacks, there is no arc or a realization that maybe we are judging a character too hastily, easily, or harshly. The screenplay is malnourished.
And what is with Wes’ dream sequences involving a man called El Doctor (Richard Roundtree)? Not only did the dreams disrupt the narrative, they come off pretentious because the characters essentially speak in circles and metaphysical code. It is a tangential quirk that tries too hard to seem original.
If “All the Days Before Tomorrow” shows us anything it is that creating a believable romance requires more than the basic ingredients of a man, a woman, and the two having opposite personalities or perspective of the world. It is about the actors having fun with each other and turning that awkward energy into something cute or sad or tragic–anything but boring. They must have chemistry. You know that a would-be romantic film is not working when you desperately hope that the better half will eventually meet someone at a party and leave the other in a pathetic puddle of well-deserved shame and self-pity.