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Before and After

3.8 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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(Apr 06, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Two of Hollywood's brightest stars, Meryl Streep (THE HOURS, ADAPTATION), and Liam Neeson (GANGS OF NEW YORK, SCHINDLER'S LIST) deliver spellbinding performances in this riveting, suspense-filled thriller! A small, close-knit community is rocked by a shocking murder -- and the only suspect is the teenage son of a respected local family. Suddenly, Dr. Carolyn Ryan (Streep) and her husband, Ben (Neeson) are faced with a gut-wrenching dilemma: Whether to risk everything on their son's innocence ... or protect him from his possible guilt! Devastating yet powerfully entertaining, you're sure to agree with critics everywhere who found BEFORE AND AFTER thrilling from beginning to end!

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Edward Furlong, Julia Weldon, Alfred Molina
  • Directors: Barbet Schroeder
  • Writers: Rosellen Brown, Ted Tally
  • Producers: Barbet Schroeder, Chris Brigham, Joe Roth, Jonathan Glickman, Roger Birnbaum
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008L3UM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,693 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Before and After" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Skimming through the reviews for this movie, I was disappointed at a couple of the extremely harsh criticisms. While there are perhaps some elements bearing a semblance to a made-for-TV feature, "trash" seems an utterly over-the-top comment, missing the very simple point this film made. I was very moved by this movie, and watched it three times when it was new, on VHS. It's on my list of films I consider underrated and ignored by audiences, as it was simply not an exciting story per se. Something about the snow and cold seem to tamp down what action there was, and the filmmakers didn't try to broaden its appeal by pumping up the action with some cinematic gimmick. Instead, they opted to simply tell a story. You're either connected to it by its premise or you're not. I got connected early on, and I found myself almost panting in dread for the father's desperate moments as he destroyed the evidence, one of the few scenes that would pass as having any REAL action. I immediatly took his side, understood his disregard for the incorrectness of it. At the end I was heartbroken.

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.
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2 Comments 58 of 65 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
This is a film that had a great premise going for it and, consequently, should have filled the screen with some semblance of suspense and drama. Unfortunately, as others have sagely pointed out, it resonates like a made for television movie, despite the stellar cast.

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.
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3 Comments 32 of 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Since I missed this movie when it played in theatres and love anything that Meryl Streep does and also am a big fan of the writer Rosellen Brown, whose novel the film was based on, I rented the DVD, expecting the worst, from some of the reviews I had read. I am happy to say that my time was not wasted in watching "Before and After." Meryl Streep as always is the consummate actress. When she is on the screen, you cannot take your eyes off her. Liam Neeson certainly is no slouch as an actor either.

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.
Comment 9 of 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
After their son is implicated in the murder of his girlfriend, parents Streep and Neeson disagree on what course of action to take. Should son Furlong tell the truth as advocated by Streep or should he go with Neeson, who has already destroyed evidence on his behalf, and make up a new version of events in an effort to remain out of jail.
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.
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