EVERY DAY Review: An Ode To Romantic Exploration

Or, the unexpected virtue of fleeting relationships.

If there's one thing that is generally accepted about the teen romance subgenre, it's that these films tend to be shallow. Obviously this truism isn't absolute, but usually teen romance films serve to offer up a melodramatic take on two Hollywood-attractive young people falling in love and any accompanying thematic permutations are window dressing, beside the point of even watching the movie. However, Every Day is different, and I don't mean just for its paranormal hook; if anything that should make it even more standard. No, Every Day actually has something vital to say about first loves, second loves, and all subsequent loves, and the notion of one true love is dismissed both symbolically and, by the end, literally.

Rihannon (Angourie Rice) is dating Justin (Justice Smith), who doesn't really seem to appreciate her as anything more than a girl to have by his side for status and sex. However, one day Justin suddenly changes for the nicer, so Rihannon encourages him to ditch school so they can have a romantic time at the beach. It is the best day of their relationship, but not only does Justin return to his old obnoxious self the next day, but he doesn't even seem to remember that their getaway even happened. Rihannon starts to meet various people, a different one every day, all claiming to be an entity known as "A," a being that wakes up in the body of a different person its own age every day, and was in Justin's body during that day on the beach. After an understandably confusing period of acclimating to the idea, Rihannon starts to realize that A sees her as a person rather than a trophy, and the two start to date, despite the difficulty of needing to navigate A's daily possessions.

Angourie Rice is a very empathetic Rihannon, whose struggles with her father's apparent mental illness inform her acceptance of Justin as a terrible boyfriend and make the necessity of A's entry into her life apparent. However, even bigger props must be given to director Michael Sucsy for the skill with which he directs the rest of his teenage performers, namely those whom A possesses over the course of the film. Remarkably, they all seem to embody the same person, though admittedly that personality is one of general benevolence and goodwill. Regardless of gender or physique, every actor feels like they embody the essence of A, which is no small feat. And yes, this does allow for very casual bisexual representation through Rihannon, who doesn't care whose body she's kissing so long as its A within, who claims no gender of their own.

What makes Every Day stand out, though, is the bravery it demonstrates in understanding the limits of its own premise. Taking a long-term relationship with A to its logical continuing points is fraught with logistical problems that the film willfully acknowledges and accepts, and in the process it turns subtext into text. Even though textually Rihannon is dating A every day, the subtextual point of her story is that she is dating a different person every day, getting out from under the shadow of her relationship with Justin by exploring her romantic and sexual range with a wide variety of people. And the film sees nothing wrong with that, framing Rihannon's love for A as something akin to falling in love with the freedom to experiment. By the end, the emotional insustainability of planning to do this indefinitely explicitly threatens both Rihannon's well-being and the well-being of those around her, including the literal A and Rihannon's subtextual desire to keep dating around. This is a remarkably deep and progressive bent for this sort of story to take, not quite embracing the idea of valid polyamory but making an aggressive point that relationships do not need to serve the purpose of finding one's mate for life if they are making positive impacts on your life here and now.

The biggest fault in Every Day is that it feels over-edited, leaving some subplots teased but never fully explored. There's a scene where A wakes up in the body of a blind kid that goes absolutely nowhere, and a digression about Rihannon's best friend feeling shut out of her life feels like it should build up to something more but resolves itself in one very short scene. There's also an allusion to Rihannon's classmates noticing her apparently promiscuous behavior and slut-shaming her for it, but unfortunately that very interesting complication to this narrative is left only to implication.

To cursorily glance at Every Day is to assume that it is one of a million similarly glossy teen weepies, but there's a lot more going on under the surface than one would expect. Its premise informs a shifting attitude in how young folks are approaching their romantic interests, in terms of gender, sexuality, and exclusivity. It does so through allegory that makes it more palatable to viewers unaccustomed to normalized romantic experimentation, but make no mistake, this is indicative of a growing change in attitudes that should be welcomed for the freedom it offers. This makes Every Day a fascinating film, if not exactly revolutionary in execution then quietly revolutionary in purpose.