In a small Texas town, life seems to be going as it always does.
High school freshman Daniel (Keegan Bouton) spends most of his time hanging out with his best friend, Haley (Charlotte Delaney Riggs). They walk around town together. They explore the woods together. They talk about their first year in high school and which teachers they like and which they dislike. When they see one of their classmates getting picked on by a group of bullies, Haley wants to do something to stop it while Daniel argues that there’s nothing they can do.
Besides, they have an even more pressing concern. Haley’s mother (Mercedes Peterson) has begun to flirt with Daniel’s father (Trey Guinn)! In a well-written and well-acted scene, they sit in a car and watch as Haley’s mom talks to Daniel’s dad and both of them discuss the things that their parents do while flirting, just to watch in silent horror as their parents proceed to do every one of those things. Though they may be best friends, they’re still a little bit creeped out by the idea of their parents dating. Daniel, especially, still thinks that his father and mother might someday get back together.
From the start, the viewer is aware that something tragic is going to happen. The town is too perfect and Haley and Daniel’s friendship is too heartfelt for there not to be a tragedy waiting around the corner. And, from the minute we see poor Colby (Holdan Mallouf) getting pushed around by Travis (Blaze Freeman) and his gang, we can pretty much guess what that tragedy will involve. It’s just a question of who, amongst the character that we’ve met, will be unlucky enough to be in the hallway when Colby finally snaps.
It may sounds melodramatic but, unfortunately, it’s also an honest portrayal of the fears that everyone has when it now comes to high school. School shooting are a tragedy that few of us can get our heads around, which is one reason why people are often more interested in using them to score political points than to actually discuss the events that led up to each shooting and the culture that produced them. This film does a good job of examining the aftermath of the shooting and the struggle of people to understand both how it could have happened and how it could have been prevented. This film emphasizes love and faith as a way to both deal with tragedy and to combat the anger and depression that leads to it happening. No one was willing to stand up for Colby and the only person who shows any real concern for him was led away by her best friend.
(I do have to say that I cringe a little bit whenever school shooters are portrayed as just being stereotypical nerds who snapped because the bullies wouldn’t leave them alone. That describes a few school shooter but it certainly doesn’t describe shooters like Nikolas Cruz, Adam Lanza, or the two Columbine shooters. Portraying any kid who is picked on as being a ticking time bomb just further stigmatizes the socially awkward.)
Forever and a Day is a low-budget film and it’s hardly flawless. (I could have done without the narrator.) But, at the same time, it deals with a difficult subject with emotional honesty and the cast does a good job inhabiting their characters. In the end, it’s a film that asks all of us to treat each other with kindness and there’s nothing wrong with that.
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