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-k... more »nit 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!« less
"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. Nothing cute or sweet happens here, and it's strictly for mature audiences, in that the subject matter is presented soley from the adults' point of view, from their sense of responsibility and self-doubt.
Whenever I'm participating in a film newsgroup or a film subscriber-list and the subject of favorite but lesser-known films comes up, I always mention BEFORE AND AFTER. I'm glad to see that it's been released on DVD and I'm going to be ordering it as soon as I finish this review."
OH... WHAT A WEB WE WEAVE, WHEN FIRST WE PRACTICE TO DECEIVE
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 09/27/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"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. Moreover, Liam goes and does exactly the opposite of what the attorney suggests, thinking that he knows better, as does Carolyn. The only ones in the Ryan family who are likable are our erstwhile killer and his sister. Edward Furlong gives an excellent performance as Jacob, a young man who acts inappropriately when faced with what can only be characterized as a terrible tragedy, one that he did not foresee but perhaps should have. He ultimately finds his own moral compass, despite his father, and manages to make his troubled character sympathetic. Meryl Streep gives a sanctimonious and priggish performance, barely able to rise above the banality of her character, while Liam Neeson's performance is best characterized as that of a bellowing bull in a china shop. Angelo Molina gives a an smoothly adept performance as the canny defense attorney who knows only too well what lies ahead for his hapless client, given the antics of Jacob's idiotic, though well-meaning, parents. This is a drama that should have held the viewer spellbound, but which, instead, succeeds only in irritating the viewer for the most part. Moreover, the ending is absolutely ridiculous. The filmmakers should have had a legal consultant on the payroll, preferably one with a working knowledge of criminal law. If they did, then they should consider suing whoever advised them so poorly."
Too much like a TV movie
Mr. B. G. Fowler | 07/13/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"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."
A Well-Done And Satisfying Movie! Massachussetts
Mr. B. G. Fowler | 08/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think "Before And After" was a really good movie. It was very moving and it really showed that not all families in movies hate each other. The movie is about a teenager named Jacob Ryan (Edward Furlong) and his family trys to help him by not going to jail because he got into a fight with his girlfriend and killed her. It is a very realistic movie because something like that could happen to anybody else. The whole cast was excellent and everybody in the movie did a great job, especially Liam Neeson, Meryl Streep, Edward Furlong, and Julia Weldon. I recommend this movie to anyone and everyone because I really enjoyed it."
An average adaptation of a disturbing book
Electra83 | U.S.A | 09/30/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"To put it simply, Before and After is a story about a family of four whose lives are forever altered when their son/brother is named a prime suspect in the death of the boy's girlfriend. His father finds evidence of the crime in the trunk of his son's car and disposes of it immediately, terrified of what it all means. And so the story is also about the lengths to which a father goes to protect his son.
There's no doubt that the book is richer than the movie. I can't deny that. There are some changes that are a bit obnoxious. For example, the death scene is different. I understand why they changed it. It was necessary in order to gain more sympathy for Jacob. I think this movie was trying to show us how bad things can happen in normal families without having to ask quite so much of the viewer. Yes, it does water down the message. In fact, it completely changes the message. Not only has the death scene been Hollywoodized, so has the character of Jacob. There's that strong hint of uncontrollable anger in him, but he doesn't do the same horrible things that the book Jacob does. The tension is still there, but the dilemma is far more simplistic and commercialized. As a result, the movie feels, at times, like a lifeless version of the novel. But what do you expect? That's Hollywood. At least we still have the book for those with the initiative to read it. Just be warned, the book is quite disturbing. I read it so long ago and I don't think that I was able to appreciate all the layers to it at the time, so I can't really recommend it. But what I do know is that it's got more depth to it than the movie does.
But none of this is really helpful to those who haven't read the book. On its own, the movie makes for a compelling story but it does have some flaws. I thought the acting was OK, though the characters were a bit one-dimensional. Jacob didn't seem to express much emotion which makes it hard to relate to him. This is kind of ironic, given the fact that the movie was drastically altered to make him more sympathetic to the viewer. Honestly, though, if Jacob had been portrayed in the movie the way he was portrayed in the book, it would have been impossible to get through the film because the viciousness of his actions combined with his zero personality would have gotten to be too much. As for the plot, I think it was interesting enough, though even if you haven't read the book, you may feel like it's a bit tame.
I did really love the setting. The whole atmosphere of the movie was perfect. There's that sense of isolation from the world but it's not entirely unpleasant. In a weird way, it's almost comforting. That sounds strange, I know. I think the movie does a good job conveying both the suffocation and the love of family."