(Release info London schedule; April 20th, 2018, Empire Cinemas, Leicester Square)
Based on David Levithan’s 'New York Times' bestseller, "Every Day" tells the story of Rhiannon (Angourie Rice), a 16-year old girl who falls in love with a mysterious soul named 'A' (Justice Smith) who inhabits a different body every day. Feeling an unmatched connection, Rhiannon and 'A' work each day to find each other, not knowing what or who the next day will bring. The more the two fall in love, the more the realities of loving someone who's a different person every 24 hours takes a toll, leaving Rhiannon and 'A' to face the hardest decision either has ever had to make.
Rhiannon is a good 16-year old, she helps out at home, doesn’t cause trouble, and does well at school. However, her family has been struggling, her father Nick (Jake Robards) had a nervous breakdown and stopped working leaving her mother Lindsey (Maria Bello) the pressure of being the sole breadwinner. While her sister Jolene (Debby Ryan) is the wild child who acts out, Rhiannon just wants to help keep her family together. At school things are little better, Rhiannon’s boyfriend Justin (Justin Smith) is the popular athlete, however, he’s also self-centered and takes Rhiannon for granted. That's, until one day when Justin shows up at school acting differently. Suddenly, he’s attentive and curious and sweet. Taken aback and enamoured, Rhiannon suggests they play hooky and steal away to Baltimore. The two take off in Justin’s car, listen to music and sing along, share stories they’ve never shared before, and play at the beach. Rhiannon is surprised to see a softer side of Justin, one that’s playful and unselfconscious. It's a day like they’ve never had before: perfect. Yet the next morning at school, Justin seems back to normal and he barely remembers what they talked about or the day they spent together. Rhiannon is perturbed, but tries to shake it off. By that weekend, though, it’s clear that the Justin who Rhiannon played hooky with isn’t coming back. She tries to recapture that day by playing the song they sang along to at a party, but Justin seems uninterested.
It does get the attention of a boy Rhiannon doesn’t know named Nathan (Lucas Zumann), however, who starts dancing wildly and putting on a show to make Rhiannon laugh. Rhiannon joins him on the dance floor and something suddenly seems familiar, but she doesn’t know what. Justin shows up and chases Nathan away and Rhiannon is left with a lingering feeling of 'déjà vu'. A few days later she's contacted by Nathan who says he wants to meet and talk. They arrange a date at a bookstore, but when Rhiannon shows up Nathan isn’t there. Instead, she meets Megan (Katie Douglas), who says she's there on Nathan’s behalf. Yet when Rhiannon and Megan begin to talk, Megan explains that she in fact is someone named 'A'. That weekend at the party 'A' was Nathan, and the day at the beach 'A' was Justin, because 'A' is a bodiless spirit who wakes up inhabiting a different person every day, for just twenty-four hours. Always someone 'A’s' age, always someone close to the last, never the same person twice. Rhiannon is naturally disbelieving at first, until 'A' manages to make contact with her a few more times over the next few days and eventually proves they are telling the truth. What follows is an extraordinary love story that transcends external appearances and physical limitations. A love story about loving someone truly and completely for who they're in their heart and soul, regardless of what's on the outside.
The Rhiannon who we meet at the beginning of the film is living a fairly conventional life, albeit being the rock of her destabilized family. A nice girl, a good friend, a solid student, Rhiannon is dating the popular boy at school, though she doesn’t feel very connected to him or much appreciated. She’s playing all the parts she feels she should play at the expense of her own self-discovery. Especially when we’re young we tend to be defined by our relationships. In the beginning of the story, Rhiannon is Nick’s daughter, Jolene’s sister, Justin’s girlfriend. As a result of her father’s breakdown, the whole family is in stasis. Their family has been fractured and they haven’t figured out how to move past it. These things are standing in the way of her freedom to grow. And what we see in the movie is that her interactions with 'A' broaden her perspective and give her space to find herself. She and everyone around her are all seeing each other not for who they're, but for who they think they should be, which is pretty common. Another important part of Rhiannon’s journey is learning to see and accept those around her, and she then shares that perspective with her family.
In the beginning of the film we’re introduced to Rhiannon’s boyfriend Justin. Justin is the popular athlete at school and he takes Rhiannon for granted. He's kind of oblivious to other people’s feelings though. He thinks a lot about himself and his own needs and when he doesn’t get those needs met, he gets frustrated and easily irritated. But one day Justin wakes up, promptly examines his hands, takes his bearings and heads off to school. On this day Justin is not himself, he has been inhabited by 'A'. Rhiannon can tell something’s off with Justin, yet soon suggests they play hooky and head off for adventure. What follows is 'A" and Rhiannon’s first date, driving and listening to music, hanging at the beach, and talking and sharing more than Justin and Rhiannon ever have. 'A' falls for Rhiannon that afternoon and, without knowing it, Rhiannon falls for 'A', too. The next day at school, Justin doesn’t seem to really remember this day that was so special to Rhiannon.
We've this character 'A' who's an entity who inhabits a different body every day for 24 hours and so in the film is portrayed by fifteen different actors. Several of the actors who play 'A' in the story play a character in Rhiannon’s life as well, so each actor has to both differentiate between when they're their main character versus when they're inhabited by 'A', as well as supporting a single, clear character for 'A'. It’s quite complex. In motion pictures, you've twenty-four still frames in a second and when they’re run together your brain compensates and creates the fluid motion connecting the frames. There's an intermittent motion effect happening in this movie in which the film asks the audience to bridge the gaps and perceive 'A' as a fluid and consistent character. That maturity and depth coming from the eyes becomes a big part of the throughline for 'A' and makes the character feel whole. Jolene’s pretty sassy and sarcastic. But her relationship to Rhiannon is really important to both of them. They’re cut from opposite cloth and they've responded to the family situation really differently, Rhiannon by trying to hold everyone together, Jolene by going a bit off the rails. She’s tough and aggressive but she has good intentions. And she's one of the few people in Rhiannon’s world who's pushing her to demand more for herself.
In 2012, young adult author David Levithan published a book that pushed him to new creative heights. It resonated so deeply with his readers that it spent months on 'The New York Times' bestseller list and spawned online chat groups, fan art and writing. That book was 'Every Day'. Ask any teenager or parent of a teenager if they’ve heard of 'Every Day', and not only will they know it, they’ll most likely have read it and passed it on to a friend. The story of a teenage entity named only 'A', who wakes up every day in a different body. "Every Day" deals with the challenges faced when 'A' falls head over heels in love with Rhiannon, a girl unlike anyone they’ve ever met. Can you've a relationship with a soul who inhabits a different body every day, sometimes boy, sometimes girl, sometimes the school quarterback, sometimes the outcast? Who are you removed of your body, your race, your clothes, your family? The story is the actualization of the old adage that we should love someone for who they're on the inside, all the more powerful because it's set during the teenage years when we customarily try on and experiment with myriad external identities in an effort to figure out we're.
Levithan’s book explores all these themes, but fundamentally it’s a story about true love, growing up, and the lengths we’ll go for those we care about. This is about not being defined by your body, or externally imposed ideas of who you're, but by who you really are. What does it really mean to love the inner person devoid of the external? The book is a juggernaut, clearly resonating with young people the world over, and taking Levithan on tours to visit high school and college students across North America. There’s a freedom in what 'A' is that’s really interesting to explore, and that’s creates a lot of great side conversations about gender and race and the binaries that society is built on, but that we can choose to step out of if we want. The book challenges gender presumptions in a way that's as entertaining as it's unexpected and, perhaps most important, that's relatable to teens who may not think they need sensitivity training when it comes to sexual orientation and the nature of true love.
His name is 'A'. Every day he wakes up in a different body. Always someone his age, never too far from the last person, never the same person twice. He has no control over any of it. He doesn't know why it happens, or how. He knows what makes each person different and what makes everyone the same. He has seen the same color blue look fifty different ways with fifty different pairs of eyes. Every day of his life, he wakes up and just try to live that day, for that person. Make no mark, leave no trace. In the film, we've 15 actors playing 'A' and the film unites those characters in one coherent arc. By making Rhiannon the protagonist and following her journey as she meets 'A' and learns about who 'A' is, the audience gets grounded in her experience, and projects into her relationship with 'A', which gives us an entry point into the more fantastical and magical idea in the story. To fill out Rhiannon’s world, the film gives her a family backstory that didn’t exist in the novel. Rhiannon’s father is recovering from a nervous breakdown and not working, her mother is the sole breadwinner, her sister Jolene is a bit of a wild child, and Rhiannon is the rock trying to hold everything together. When we meet Rhiannon she has a real desire for normalcy but she's also somewhat stuck and unable to fully discover herself because her focus is on supporting her family. This is the foundation from which she takes off on this incredible journey.
A great love story is timeless and remains one of the most satisfying cinematic genres. On the one hand the book very simple, the embodiment of loving someone for who they really are, while also being very complex in how it addresses a lot of issues in the lives of young people today. The results something really extraordinary about manifesting that in a character who literally has to walk in someone else’s shoes every single day. The profoundness of that and the magic of that just grabs people and inspires awe. Beyond exploring the most universal themes of true love, identity and coming of age, "Every Day" also reflects very contemporary ideas about acceptance and the freedom to be whoever you're, a particularly resonant idea for young people right now who increasingly reject categorization.
It's such a commonplace and simple piece of advice, that you should appreciate someone for what's on the inside, and not judge them by external appearances. Yet it's also true that what seems simplest on the surface can often end up being the hardest thing. In the end, the question of who we're at the core, without body, gender, any external identifiers that all, is not so simple to answer. Equally, at first look "Every Day" is a charming, funny, and smart coming-of-age story about the ups and downs of true love and growing up. But dig a little deeper and there’s more. This movie is a love story, but there's so much more, it's a coming-of-age story, it's a story about family love, it's a story about loving someone so much that you choose to do the difficult thing, and it’s a magical story. It's a total swoon. This story will have resonance at this amazing time we're in where a generation seems to be turning away from black and white definitions around identity, which is such an exciting thing.