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Every Day

We've all secretly wondered what it would be like to walk in someone else's shoes (preferably flats). Director Michael Sucsy's otherworldly romance, based on the young adult novel by David Levithan, tests the elasticity of that conceit to the limit. Every Day fixates on a 16-year-old girl, who falls in love with a spirit, which is cursed to inhabit a different body for 24 hours and experience that person's imperfect life until the clock chimes midnight. The wandering consciousness pledges not to cause ripples that will impact its unsuspecting host's future, observing a full spectrum of human nature through the inquisitive eyes of both sexes. Jesse Andrews' heartfelt script preaches acceptance, understanding and the importance of forging connections beyond external beauty without bludgeoning the target teenage audience into submission. Admittedly, the intricacies of A's body-swapping and the thorny issue of physical attraction are largely sidestepped but performances, anchored by Australian rising star Angourie Rice, possess a sweetness and sincerity that papers over the fissures. High school student Rhiannon (Rice) is a silent witness to the deteriorating marriage of her father Nick (Michael Cram) and mother Lindsey (Maria Bello), who works two jobs to support the family following Nick's mental breakdown. The teenager spars with sassy older sister Jolene (Debby Ryan) and begrudgingly tolerates a boyfriend, Justin (Justice Smith), who ignores her to drink and play videogames with his buddies. Out of the blue, Justin surprises Rhiannon with an afternoon of soul-searching by the sea. "Today was the happiest day I've had in a long time," she beams. Rhiannon is blissfully unaware that Justin's body has been inhabited for the day by a benevolent spirit called A, who is deeply moved by the girl's vulnerability. The following morning, Justin reverts to a selfish brute and A inhabits the body of an exchange student, Amy (Jeni Ross), who shadows Rhiannon at school. Eventually, A confides the truth to Rhiannon. "This is the coolest, creepiest thing that has ever happened!" squeals best friend Rebecca (Amanda Arcuri). Once Rhiannon processes A's outlandish claim, she excitedly meets the spirit in each new guise, which includes a lovable dork called Nathan (Lucas Jade Zumann), sensitive classmate Alexander (Owen Teague) and a dangerously suicidal girl called Kelsea (Nicole Law). Every Day is a refreshing change from the usual teen angst touched by terminal illness, insecurities about body image or sexuality. Rice embodies an endearing heroine caught in a metaphysical maelstrom beyond her control and she sparks pleasingly with different iterations of A, particularly the one host that might be her perfect match. Momentum builds gradually, reaching a moving crescendo with a flash forward that reminds us the contract of falling in love includes an unbreakable clause about sometimes having to let go of the people that mean the most.