Starring Kathleen Quinlan, John Doman, Pablo Schreiber, Sabrina Gennarino, Adam Scarimbolo, Diane Neal, Darrin Hewitt Henson, Bruno Gunn, Mandy Gonzalez, Kim Estes, Joseph Ferrante, Tracy Howe, David Goryl, Whit Washing and Alexi Maggio.
Screenplay by Sabrina Gennarino.
Directed by Pieter Gasperz.
Distributed by Paladin Pictures. 99 minutes. Rated R.
Family life is never near what you think it would be looking from the outside. Sometimes, even when you are part of the family, you are putting on masks and pretenses.
After tells the story of an extended family in Long Island, New York, circa 2002, all of whom are constantly attempting to appear to be something that they really aren’t.
The official blurb of the film makes it actually seem to make a bit more sense than the film actually does. “A story centered around the Valentinos, a struggling family whose delicate balance is threatened by a carefully concealed secret that, if revealed, will change their lives forever.”
Honestly, to me the secret was pretty obvious from very early on in the film – I won’t give it away but I’m sure I’m not the only one who figures out the central mystery well before it is revealed on film.
I will go so far to say – because this is such a vital plot point of After that is almost impossible to discuss the film without it – that the central family covers up a tragedy. Simply pretends it never happened, often going way out of their way to promote the lie. It is because one of the family members is too mentally unstable to handle the truth of the situation.
However, in bending over backwards to shelter that family member, the rest of the group is buried in a constant lie. At a certain point, the shared deception is tearing at the fabric of each person’s life. They are all miserable, floundering in life, abusing substances and getting into trouble with the law.
How far can you really go to protect someone when that is destroying everyone else?
After does not seem to have a good answer for that question.
However, there is some fine acting behind this flawed story. Kathleen Quinlan is wonderful as the brittle matriarch of the clan. John Doman (The Wire) does fine work as the oldest son, trying against hope to save the family business and needing to be the one mature member of the family left. Screenwriter Sabrina Gennarino also does some devastating work as the oldest daughter, plain and hiding her sexuality from the family.
Still, as the film careens to its inevitable crash, it seems neither as surprising nor as profound as it wants to be.
After has some very intriguing ideas behind it, but I wish they were expressed better.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright©2014 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 8. 2014.