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‘Every Day’ review: Charming, compelling teen movie

Angourie Rice and Justice Smith in

Angourie Rice and Justice Smith in "Every Day." Photo Credit: Orion Pictures / Peter H. Stranks

PLOT A teenage girl falls in love with a human spirit who wakes up each day in a new body.

CAST Angourie Rice, Justice Smith, Owen Teague

RATED PG-13 (mature themes and suggested sexuality)

LENGTH 1:35

BOTTOM LINE A compelling teen movie that uses a fantastical premise to explore modern-day ideas of sexuality. Angourie Rice leads an appealing young cast.

The character is named A, has no gender or even a fixed human body and is played by — if my count is correct — more than a dozen actors. A is the highly unusual romantic lead in “Every Day,” director Michael Sucsy’s adaptation of David Levithan’s young adult novel. It’s a movie that pushes the boundaries of believability and runs the risk of sounding like a PSA for alternative sexualities, but thanks to its charming cast and nonpreachy tone, “Every Day” ends up feeling like something special. It’s a compelling, possibly groundbreaking movie about young love in a new era of options and definitions.

Our heroine is actually Rhiannon, a friendly and unassuming high schooler played by a peppy but never precious Angourie Rice (a 17-year-old Australian who appeared briefly in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”). When her normally neglectful boyfriend, Justin (Justice Smith), suddenly whisks her away for a romantic day of hooky at the beach, Rhiannon’s heart soars. It turns out, though, Justin was only temporarily occupied by the spirit of A, who wakes up in the body of someone new every day. A is in love with this girl but, as you might imagine, their relationship will take some work.

As a story, “Every Day” is more believable than you might think, though as a movie it has its flaws. The many actors who briefly embody A can be tough for us to attach to, and they range from quite good (notably Owen Teague and Jacob Batlan, also from “Spider-Man”) to fairly stiff. Still, the cast is so variegated — black, white, blind, nerdy, sexually ambiguous — that we tend to dwell on Rhiannon’s bemused reactions rather than the occasional stilted performance. As for Jesse Andrews’ screenplay, it sometimes feels over-earnest (How about a little comedy? The possibilities are endless.) but “Every Day” is, after all, trying to say something serious about love. And in its modest, teen-modulated way, it says it.

Some viewers might note that, despite its expansive notion of sexuality, “Every Day” features only one same-gender kiss and eventually settles on a very conventional-looking picture of happiness. All true. But I’d say this daring little movie has earned the right to make its choice.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, the director’s last name was misspelled.

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