Starring: Liam Neeson, Meryl Streep, Edward Furlong
Director: Barbet Schroeder
Running Time: 108 mins
Before And After is an American film about a mother and father who become embroiled in a controversial court case after it emerges that their son has been accused with the murder of a young girl.
A gripping and often genuinely uncomfortable watch throughout, Before And After is a horrifying depiction of every parent’s worst nightmare. With a powerfully ominous atmosphere crafted by director Barbet Schroeder, this can be a very dark film, particularly as it goes beyond legal drama into the devastating realities of human psychology.
Let’s start with the performances at the centre of this movie, which really anchor its challenging emotional heart. In the lead roles, Liam Neeson and Meryl Streep really shine as the parents caught in two minds as to whether they should believe their son, accused of a heinous crime.
Edward Furlong brilliantly plays the seemingly disturbed son at the centre of the controversy, with an unnerving edge to him that leaves you as a viewer never quite sure as to who to trust, which makes you sympathise all the more with the parents who are beginning to doubt their own son.
As the film plays out, it initially develops as quite a captivating and above all unyielding legal drama. The movie doesn’t hold back in its depiction of the cold, brutal world of crime and punishment, with the parents gobsmacked by the callous but necessary attitude of the lawyer hired to defend their son in court.
However, while the legal drama is certainly an engrossing element of the story, it’s second to what unfolds as a rather revealing depiction of human psychology, both on the part of the family members caught in the middle of this controversy, and their fellow townspeople, whose behaviour begins to turn nasty.
Much like its depiction of crime and punishment, Before And After certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to telling the realities of human psychology, from the lengths that parents will go to protect their children, to the terrifying threat of mob mentality as one side of a story gets around an entire community.
The film’s latter stages certainly strike up some devastating moments of drama, evolving from what begins as an eerie crime drama into something really rather dark.
Overall, then, I was thoroughly impressed by Before And After. A challenging and often unyielding thriller, the film blends captivating legal drama with mystery and riveting psychological depth, all brought to life in brilliant fashion by an excellent cast. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.7.