BEFORE AND AFTER is a story about how a tragic circumstance can bring out the worst in people. The Ryans were a normal American family. Carolyn Ryan, played by Meryl Streep, is a pediatrician, and her husband Ben, played by Liam Neeson, is a successful artist. As Dr. Ryan is leaving the hospital, she recognizes a dead girl as a former patient. The young girl as also her son’s girlfriend. Carolyn arrives home and is welcomed by a very serious sheriff who is looking for her son Jacob, who is nowhere to be found. Carolyn panics. Ben, on the other hand, destroys evidence. Jacob is picked up by the police, brought to trial and is faced with the decision to whether or not to continue his parent’s deception.
In this story, it is the children and not the parents who have a strong sense of right and wrong. Both Jacob and his sister want to get things out in the open and deal with the consequences rather than live a lie. The parents have no moral compass to point them in the right direction. Suspenseful in the first half, the movie loses steam and meanders through its second half. Streep and Neeson fans will be disappointed to see these quality actors in unimpressive performances. Realistic, but without any hope or clear moral position, BEFORE AND AFTER is a downer without a cause.
(Pa, C, B, LL, VV, SS, A, D) Pagan worldview with some prayer and misrepresentations of Scripture & a moral conclusion; 7 obscenities, 3 vulgarities & 5 profanities; brief but bloody violence of a pregnant woman accidentally murdered & eye gouged out; implied sex between married couple, implied sex between young unmarried couple & sexual suggestiveness; alcohol use implied; and, lying & destroying evidence