Before and After
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Every now and then, everyone lines up to praise something like SIDEWAYS (a good film; I'm not disagreeing), but the filmmakers' attempts at indie-film understatement are belied by a script full of quirky characters stimulated by equally quirky events. A film like BEFORE AND AFTER depends strictly on the familial realism in which obligation and dependability are core values, and what happens when events challenge their depth and present the necessity of risking one's own freedom in the slim hope of preserving a son's. Sometimes a more primal integrity supercede's one's obligation to the law.Read more ›
The film takes place in a rural area of Massachusetts, where an artist by profession, Ben Ryan (Liam Neeson), and his doctor wife, Carolyn (Meryl Streep), live with their two teenage children, Jacob (Edward Furlong) and Judith (Julia Weldon). Unbeknownst to Ben and Carolyn, Jacob is carrying on with the town's junior vixen. Things come to the fore when the young woman is found dead, and their son disappears. Naturally, things do not look good for Jacob. The well respected Ryan family suddenly find itself cast in the role of the town pariah, shunned by many of the local yokels.
Ben takes things into his own hand upon discovering evidence that would implicate Jacob in the girl's death and destroys that seemingly inculpatory evidence. When Jacob is apprehended and returned to face charges, the Ryans, upon the advice of a local attorney and friend, Wendell Bye (John Heard), obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney, Panos Demeris (Alfred Molina), for their son. Thereafter, Ben and Carolyn proceed to disregard everything that the attorney advises them to do. Moreover, they each do their own thing with respect to their son's interest, much to his detriment.
Ben comes across as a somewhat unlikable and doltish, single-minded character. While Carolyn, who seems to have a moral compass and knows the right thing to do, comes across as a foolish woman who neglects to include her son's attorney in the equation.Read more ›
The film stays fairly close to the story line of the novel, as best I recall. Ms. Brown's novels, though very serious, always ring true. In her world, nothing is promised. In this instance a family living in Massachusetts is torn apart when the teenage son Jacob is accused of murdering a local teenage girl. While both the novel and film are entitled "Before and After," we are dealing essentially with the "after" here, as in one moment both our entire lives and the lives of those we love can be irrevocably changed. This movie asks hard questions. To what lengths should one go to in protecting his family? Should one tell the truth no matter what the cost? Is one innocent until proven guilty?
This is certainly a film well worth watching. If you liked the movie-- or even if you didn't-- you will find the novel ever more thought-provoking.
The tagline of how far would you go to protect your own flesh and blood promises an awful lot more than it delivers. Indeed, it never manages to raise tension, even in scenes that by rights should be the most interesting in the movie, such as the revelation of what really happened between Furlong and his girlfriend. All performances are intact and correct; this is exactly the kind of role that fits Streep best (even though she was a whole lot more enjoyable in 'The River Wild'), Neeson is likewise very good in an unfortunately stereotypical role and even though Furlong is often typecast as the troubled teen he plays it better than any other.
However, the primary flaw is that something that promises emotion never really reaches boiling point and despite the star names you can't help but think that it all looks very much like a TV movie. All this and the ending offers no kind of conclusion or redemption for its character, leaving its audience hanging but not really caring.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like any movie with Liam and any movie with Meryl so I knew this was going to be a good movie. It was.Published 1 day ago by Lorraine Merrell
Liam & Meryl are wonderful in this family story sliced from real life ! Bravo !Published 17 days ago by Julie Shearer
Liam worked a nerve in this movie but in a good way trying to cover up the deeds of his son. Meryl was awesome as the parent with a conscious.. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Southern Ron
Sorry, love these actors but, who in their right mind would do what this dad did?