Before and After Reviews
Saw this on 13/06/14
It begins well, but ends in a bland manner. It's an uneven film with nothing much to make of. The acting from Liam Neeson and Meryl Streep are good and the supporting actors doesn't disappoint as well. The film makes no point after all and ends up being mawkish and boring. The ending lacks the punch and this film can't even be grouped into any genre.
Carolyn (Meryl Streep) and her husband Ben (Liam Neeson) live with their two children Jacob (Edward Furlong) and Judith. Their world is shattered one evening they come to know that witnesses have seen their son fleeing the scene where a girl was found murdered. The battle of parents to fight for their accused son starts, with townsfolk harassing the whole family.
Liam's character was sound and it did bring back memories of his film Taken. However, plot was misinterpreting qualities and abilities of Liam Neeson. I am not becoming rude or hostile while saying this but apart from some American families nowhere in the world should you find loved-ones giving up on their blood-related kith and kins, especially if you're son/brother/daughter/sister. But here we have a mother who is rather trying to be 'Mother India'(although in case of Birjou he really was most-feared decoite) and a daughter-cum-sister who is (I don't even know what she is trying to be). An average film, with good ending thank-God.
While Liam Neeson has rarely had very good acting roles, this is one time when he is actually at least somewhat convincing. And as always, veteran Meryl Streep impresses as the distraught mother trying to come to terms with and make sense of everything when her family's world is turned upside down. Alfred Molina shines, too, in the role of shyster lawyer Panos Demeris. Audiences will love to hate him when he tells Carolyn that Jacob is his client. And he will defend Jacob, even if it means throwing Carolyn under the bus.
The reaction of the townspeople around the Ryans' is entirely believable. One look at the news each night shows just how fast people are to judge, rather than sit and wait for the facts to come out about a case. They instantly take it on themselves to be judge, jury and executioner, when they don't have the full story. And their reactions to Jacobâ(TM)s family are just as believable. Despite doing what he did, it makes Ben that much more of a sympathetic character to audiences. He wasn't thinking in doing what he did. He wanted only to protect his son.
That relationship between Ben and Jacob was the true heart of this movie. While the main story was a crime drama, audiences learn that a fight between the two is what led up to the alleged murder. Ultimately, the father-son relationship leads to an ending that is bittersweet at best. But considering everything that Jacob and his family endured thanks to Martha's death, it's understandable that the story would end how it did. That ending won't be given away. But it will leave any true movie lover moved as the last scene fades to credits.
Before and After is not a terrible movie by any means. Is it the most memorable movie ever made in the crime drama genre? No. But it is still a movie that's worth at least one watch. Odds are that it was unappreciated by so many critics was that it was based so much in reality, rather than being just another over sensationalistic oversexed crime drama/thriller. It's a movie that any fan of more realistic crime dramas will enjoy.