Film Scouts Reviews

"Before and After"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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Feb 21, 1996

I was looking forward to seeing "Before and After". I admit it. Looking at the cast
list of Liam Neeson, Meryl Streep, Edward Furlong and Alfred Molina was enough
to make my little film critic heart jump. With so much talent, with such a great
premise for a story, what could go wrong? Well, lots.

Streep and Neeson are the happy couple whose lives are shattered when their
son, the perfect petulant teen, Furlong is accused of killing his girlfriend. What a
great character study, I thought. They are gonna burn up the screen. Not
exactly. Maybe I've been watching too much MTV, too many ADD inducing TV
shows, too many Tarantino flicks, but I kept waiting for something to happen.
And when they do, it is not engaging. Dad takes matters into his own hands,
Mom does the same in a totally different way. And then there is this sex scene
seemingly thrown in to wake everyone up. Molina enters as the pragmatic lawyer
and a discussion of truth versus justice ensues. Molina, one of the hardest
working actors in the US and England told me that his perfect role right now
would be a character on a Caribbean cruise, who sleeps a lot. Sorry Alfred, but
all you need is two hours with "Before and After" to be sound asleep.

I just didn't expect this from director, Barbet Schroeder who won the Oscar for
"Reversal of Fortune" or from screenwriter, Ted Tally who got his for "Silence of
the Lambs". Both are experienced in the field of bringing complex stories to the
screen in stunning fashion. Instead of moral ambiguity, "Before and After" just
gives disappointment and a vague sense of unease.

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