Who hasn’t had a day where we woke up and wished we were someone else? Writer David Levithan — whose novel Every Day has been adapted into a feature film, opening today — took this concept a step further. “I was walking to work one day,” he says, “and I just thought, what would it be like to wake up every day in a different body?”
Director Michael Sucsy’s young adult romance, from a screenplay by Jesse Andrews based on Levithan’s book, is a sweet paean to a gender-fluid, diverse universe wherein the young Rhiannon is courted by the body-hopping soul of A, who lands — at the start of the film — in the shell of her boyfriend Justin.
Rhiannon, played with a doe-eyed guilelessness by Angourie Rice (a dead ringer for the young Amy Adams), spends the perfect day with her boyfriend, skipping school, romping on the beach and getting closer to him than ever before. She even opens up about her dysfunctional family. Yet when life goes back to normal the next day — as A spends only 24 hours from body-to-body — she can’t understand the shift in Justin’s demeanor or why he can’t recall their perfect day together.
Over the next few weeks, she runs into a number of people with whom she clicks in the same manner though she can’t quite understand why. A phrase from that perfect day is mentioned by Megan (whom she meets at a coffee shop). Nathan — a boy at a party — makes the same intimate gesture to move the hair from her face that Justin did, and sings along to the same song that meant so much to Justin on that fateful day and that he now ignores when Rhiannon slips it on at the party. (The The’s “This Is the Day,” perfectly used, though how A or Rhiannon intimately know this ’80s classic is a mystery.)
When A finally tries to explain to Rhiannon what is happening — in the body of heavy-set Pacific Islander James — she’s rightly skeptical and worried that she’s being pranked. Yet she begins to seek out A as it slowly dawns on her that her idea of love is being challenged, stretched. Do we love the soul regardless of the form the body takes (transgender, Asian, black, Latina, white, male, female, etc.)? Is it possible to sustain?
The film posits more questions than it can contain, and the drama surrounding Rhiannon’s family life is unnecessary. (Mario Bello, always great to see, is wasted in the role of her mother.) Every Day is not a classic — far from it — but it just might connect with an audience in a way that could be considered defining.
The concept itself captures the contemporary moment (as well as the younger generation’s more fluid approach to love and sexuality), and it has something to say to the population at large, even if that something is as simple — and worth repeating — as our community’s recent rallying cry: “love is love.”