Hot for Teacher
Before the Dawn (2019): 5 out of 10: A young teacher fleeing an abusive marriage (Alana de Freitas) starts anew at a small catholic school where she befriends a troubled male teen (Jared Scott) who is sensitive and looks likes a male model. Lots of really poor decisions ensue.
The Good: What works? There is good chemistry between teacher Alana de Freitas and student Jared Scott. They are a cute couple and there is a legitimate ease and flirtation about them. They sell the central romance in the film.
In addition, Alana de Freitas is believable as an idiot, which her character definitely is. I cannot begin to even list the complete dumbass things she does to cause this. One of the reasons that our teacher/student couple works so well is for better or worse, they are at the same level of emotional maturity.
Alana gives an excellent performance. She does the little things right but during the sex scenes and outside of them. You will see her lightly touch her co-stars chest with her fingers with great affection. She nails the details many actors miss when they try to show intimacy.
The Bad: What doesn’t work? Some of the side characters are very off. There is a trio of gangbangers which appear to be important to the plot but honestly seem to have teleported from a different movie…. and there is a character who becomes a rapist, so out of the blue, one can only assume alien parasite in his brain as an explanation.
Before The Dawn also seems to have issues with the whole wrong side of the tracks theme. Jared Scotts family really doesn’t seem that poor, and Alana de Freitas has a really nice apartment for a first year teacher at a catholic school who fled an abusive husband with nothing but the clothes on her back. (In addition, Alana claims she comes from the neighborhood despite sounding like Elle Woods in I assume an attempt by Alana de Freitas to hide her Australian accent.)
The Ugly: As a movie about a female teacher having an affair with a troubled student, Before the Dawn never quite overcomes its made for TV or Lifetime Movie of the Week feeling.
Before the Dawn avoids exploitation and it is a bit to its detriment. A little exploitation would have done wonders to wash away the feeling we are watching a made for TV drama.
In Conclusion: Alana de Freitas and Jared Scott are a cute couple but the story is both too conservative in its presentation and too batshit crazy in some of its plot twists for its own good. Unfortunate as there is a decent romance at the core here and Alana de Freitas really sells a vulnerable, recently divorced from a physically abusive relationship, woman who falls for a male model who for some reason is a student in her English class.