7.2/10
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21 user 39 critic

Before I Disappear (2014)

Unrated | | Drama | 28 November 2014 (USA)
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At the lowest point of his life, Richie gets a call from his estranged sister, asking him to look after his eleven-year old niece, Sophia, for a few hours.

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16 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Richie
... Sophia
... Maggie
... Gideon
... Bill
... Bruce Warham
... Darren
... Dead Girl
... Vista
... Devon
Joseph DeVito ... The Collector
... Jordan
... Blonde Woman
... Ellis (as Joseph Perrino)
... Cody
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Storyline

A troubled young man and his strait-laced niece embark on a thrilling odyssey through New York City in this heartrending drama based on an Oscar-winning short. As his life hits rock bottom, 20-something Richie decides to end it all, only to have his half-hearted suicide attempt interrupted by an urgent request from his sister to babysit her precocious daughter. So begins a madcap tour of Manhattan after dark, as uncle and niece find unexpected bonds in the unlikeliest of places. Written by IFC Films

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

28 November 2014 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Curfew  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,676, 28 November 2014, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$10,078, 17 January 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film playing in the background of Gideon's party is Buster Keaton's "The General" See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Richie: Dear Vista, I've been meaning to write this note for a long time, but as you know, I'm not very good at expressing myself. So I'll just say this. I miss your smile. I would say that I hope this note finds you well, but as these things go, that won't be the case.
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Connections

References Psycho (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Flower Duet
(from Lakme')
Written by Léo Delibes
Performed by the Opollo Symphony Orchestra
Courtesy of Premium Beats
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User Reviews

 
Where realism meets surrealism
6 December 2014 | by See all my reviews

"Before I Disappear" was birthed from director Shawn Christensen's 2013 short film "Curfew," which won Best Live Action Short Film at the Academy Awards that year. I remember watching the short film and simply being captivated by its portrayal of ugly yet realistic characters in a seamy environment, so much so that I called it "a wonderful exercise in style, emotion, human interaction, and existential purpose." With the accolades and recognition "Curfew" received, it was only a matter of time before the short would be adapted into a feature-length project, and, thankfully, the core focus of the film and its characters didn't find themselves lost in translation.

This is a film of tone, realism and germane surrealism, and companionship, four ideas that one would assume would make for an awkward, uneven film but mesh so well together thanks to Christensen's carefulness that the end product is something to behold. The film concerns Ritchie (Christensen), an aimless and depressed twentysomething working for a seedy nightclub run by Bill (Ron Perlman). His will to live is waning day-by-day after his girlfriend Vista has mysteriously disappeared, and, upon finding the corpse of a young female in the nightclub bathroom, Ritchie is ready to call it quits.

He goes home, fills a bathtub full of water, and proceeds to take a sharp razor and slit his wrists, ending his miserable existence. His suicide attempt is interrupted by Maggie ("Shameless"'s Emmy Rossum), who phones him asking to pick up her eleven-year-old daughter Sophia (Fátima Ptacek, who voices Dora on "Dora the Explorer") from school and look after her while she takes care of other things. Reluctantly, Richie exits hit bloody bathtub, bandages his wrists, throws on old clothes, lights a cigarette and heads off to pick Sophia up. Sophia is exactly the kind of precocious tot that Richie needs in his life, regardless of whether or not he knows it. Sophia is meticulous, organized, and grounded in a world where all there is is homework and poetry. She's drawn realistically and not conjured up from the barrage of clichés one expect from this character. She's sensitively played by Ptacek, who is only fourteen-years-old, and just when you think her character is a caricature, she surprises and comes to be a wonderful addition to not only the story but Richie's life.

Richie and Sophia wander the streets, with Richie being hunted by loansharks and mob bosses for his failure to pay back old debts, going from several seedy locations before finding some sort of solace and connection at a bowling alley. This scene is almost identical in structure and setup as "Curfew," but with it being bookended by more familiarity and involvement with the characters, it takes on a greater significance. It provides for a momentary discourse in Richie's miserable existence, as he watches Sophia freely dance down the lane of the alley, with people shaking their hips with bowling balls in their hands at the front of each lane. This adds to the surrealism aspect I mentioned earlier, in that while "Before I Disappear" explores realistically-drawn characters with serious problems and shortcomings, it also welcomes intriguing surrealism into the mix, bending the reality our disillusioned character lives in. Consider when Richie takes a handful of menopause pills (which he believes are sleeping pills that will turn fatal if he takes enough) and hallucinates one of his collectors coming after him; it's one of the greatest surrealist scenes in a film predicated off of being human and realistic.

"Before I Disappear" has received the most flak from people who saw "Curfew," weren't a big fan of it to begin with, and then cringed at the thought of watching the short stretched out for ninety-three minutes. Those who enter blindly, and have never seen "Curfew," will likely get the most enjoyment out of it, or those, like me, who enjoy stories about believable and real characters, will find several things to appreciate.


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