IMAGINE the amount of social media squabbles that could be diffused with the type of body swaps often found in teen movies.
If films such as Freaky Friday and Your Name are anything to go by, it would be a handy device to bridge obstinate identity gaps and encourage a willingness to understand others that seems to have been lost in favour of deeply entrenched, point-scoring positions.
Michael Suscy’s film Every Day, based on a popular 2012 book by David Levithan, imagines a person who has spent their entire life bridging such gaps by living each day in a different body.
This person, named A, has seen life through thousands of pairs of eyes, an unexplained occurrence that goes against the usual two-person temporary switch seen in the body swap subgenre. This is not freaky Friday, rather this is freaky every day – and everyone. A tweak in the body swap story that opens new doors for universal discussions around identity, sexuality and much more.
With this different approach, Every Day does not begin with the usual body swap preamble. There is no magical event or bitter argument to trigger events. We also skip the usual scene of initial body swap shock – no screaming in the mirror or peaking down at private parts.
Instead we jump straight into the story as young couple Rhiannon (Angourie Rice) and Justin (Justice Smith) ditch school for an idyllic beachside date. They dance in the car to This is the Day by The The, mess around in the sand, share intimate secrets and end the date with a kiss. It all seems too good to be true – and it is.
The next day Justin has no recollection of the date and is back to his usual callow ways. Rhiannon is instead treated with the same care and affection Justin had shown on the date by a new girl at school named Amy (Jeni Ross). Likewise, a few days later Rhiannon strikes up a connection with a random boy at a party named Nathan (Lucas Jade Zumann) before he disappears at midnight like Cinderella forging her glass slipper.
As Rhiannon comes to learn, all these people have something in common: they were inhabited for the day by the loving and thoughtful soul of A. This starts a budding – yet complicated – romantic relationship between A and Rhiannon. One that transcends physical attraction, gender and race but cannot escape the difficulties that arise with A’s lack of a permanent physical body.
The whole concept is carried off seamlessly thanks to a well-directed cast that paints a consistent picture of A. You can feel A move through each of the different actors – from home-schooled African American George (Sean Jones) to self-harming Asian-American Kelsea (Nicole Law). So much so that you can understand how Rhiannon learns how to pick out A in a crowd of strangers.
As those who have seen her earlier work will already know, Rice has always had star presence. In Every Day, Rice steps into a mature teen lead role with an assuredness and openness that should see her placed in a similar bracket of talented and venturesome young actors as her The Beguiled co-star Elle Fanning.
Like most book-to-film adaptations, there are parts of the story that feel rushed. Rhiannon’s family situation and A’s time in the body of a suicidal teen are just a few story treads that might have been better left alone or tugged on further. But many of these faults are blinded by the warm charm of Every Day, a sparkling film that is propelled further into the teen stratosphere by its dreamy soundtrack, a beautiful rural setting, gentle humour and those memorably sentimental moments every teen flick thrives on.
Every Day offers a lot to think about without ever feeling preachy or insincere. If I woke up tomorrow as a young teen, it might just be my favourite film. A thinking and inclusive body swap film that we should pay attention to – this is winsome, modern and illuminating.
Every Day arrives in UK cinemas Friday 20 April