Before and After Review

Before and After
Two parents deal with the effects when their son is accused of murdering his girlfriend.

by Patrick Humphries |
Published on
Release Date:

01 Jan 1996

Running Time:

108 minutes



Original Title:

Before and After

Opening in snowbound, sleepy Anytown, USA, this is a refreshing variation on the 90s thriller. It offers no white-knuckle ride, no pretensions to the played-out “erotic thriller” genre, but rather it’s a sympathetic and compelling character-led piece.

Ben and Carolyn Ryan (Neeson and Streep) are pillars of the community, but things change when their son Jacob (Furlong) is accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend. The Ryans suddenly find themselves ostracised. However, the identity of the murderer takes second place to the portrait of a family cracking under pressure.

It’s hard to reconcile the sureness of touch Schroeder exercises here with his hysterical Single White Female. The performances are all top-notch: Streep plays “ordinary” convincingly, and Neeson has the passionate artist and overwhelming father dead-on. Even Furlong is chillingly plausible as the blank-eyed slacker. There’s a nice performance, too, from Alfred Molina as the Ryans’ lawyer, staying just this side of sleazy.

Moreover, this intelligently tackles a number of interesting issues. Just how well do you know your family? How much is the truth worth when your son’s future is at stake and you’re under oath? And how, in a second, your whole life can be utterly transformed. In the end, family emotions run rife, although red-eyed sentimentality is held in check just enough to sustain credibility. Its very nature could see this lost in the blockbuster rush, which would be a shame as it is both thought-provoking and intelligent.

Underrated character study with some understated central performances .
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