‘Every Day’ has an Intriguing Concept that Gets Problematic Really Quickly
This body-switching teenage romance is burdened with practical concerns
Every Day begins with a rather unusual day for 16-year-old Rhiannon (Angourie Rice). She and her boyfriend Justin (Justice Smith) skip out on school to spend the day together. Justin isn’t acting quite like himself, but Rhiannon really ends up enjoying the day. But the next day, Justin doesn’t remember their time together. And soon, we learn of the existence of a being called “A,” who wakes up in a different body every day, and controls that body until midnight. A doesn’t get to choose the person, but it’s always someone around the same age, always someone within a certain proximity, and never the same person twice.
So, the film starts to sketch out an impossible romance. Rhiannon has made an indelible impression on A, and A approaches her again and reveals the truth to her while in a different body. While Rhiannon at first thinks that she’s just being pranked, she comes to believe A. And the two actually start to fall in love. But of course, A’s situation presents some interesting challenges. Not knowing who A will be or what situation the host will be in quickly becomes an issue. And A is forced to reckon with the ethics of using these unwitting people to carry out the romance with Rhiannon.
It’s an intriguing concept, but one with more obstacles than benefits. The main benefit lies in how the idea creates a tangible context for the search of teenage identity, and in how the film is able to take that idea as a means of stumping for compassion above all things. But it’s a real stretch as a romance. There are too many practical plot concerns to make this idea work, and the film isn’t really imaginative or bold enough to make any of it seem particularly reasonable. A’s very existence is problematic, and the pursuit of Rhiannon, in which several unwitting people lose their agency and are basically taken advantage of, is doubly so.
A lot can be glossed over in the name of young romance, but the more the story goes on, the more difficult it is to accept all the things this story is throwing at the audience. The more trouble that these two go through for their fleeting moments together start to feel pretty foolish. The two continue to be portrayed as good people, even as they seem to completely ignore the possible consequences of their actions. The main conflict of the story doesn’t really get much more complex than this, and that the characters take so long to realize it makes them seem to be more troubling than they really ought to be.
The filmmaking doesn’t really do much to make any of this any more convincing. It’s plain to the point of being a little boring, peppered with a few too many grainy drone shots serving as lazy transitions between scenes. Angourie Rice is charming enough, but she never quite turns Rhiannon into anything more than a creature of strange impulses. The multitude of teenage actors portraying A, including Rice, all do a fine enough job, though there is very little sense of A as a singular character.
Every Day doesn’t feel entirely thought through. One could point to how it keeps changing the rules, the effects and consequences of A’s possessions changing depending on what the plot needs. Or one could point to the bigger issues. There are many ways this concept could be explored, and putting it into the context of teenage romance brings up more problems than the film seems to be willing to reckon with. And the benefits of this romantic concept seem relatively minor in the context of this story. The film just doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny.
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.