Before and After

on February 23, 1996 by Susan Lambert
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Starting as a good thriller with interesting family dilemmas, "Before and After" soon has everyone being so upfront and honest, even about their lies, that all drama is purged and the thrill is quickly gone. Liam Neeson comes on strong like a lion as Ben Ryan, an overly earnest father trying to protect his son (Edward Furlong) from the law, but his character exhibits such extreme emotions that he comes off as an abusive man so much so that the filmmakers make a point of saying he's not, over and over again.
That Meryl Streep, flawless as ever, wastes her time here as the loving and noble mother/wife, illustrates today's dearth of good female roles. The children ("Little Odessa's" Edward Furlong and "Parallel Sons'" Julia Weldon) more than hold their own with their elders. When the film downshifts to a TV-like family dra-ma, the plot contrivances stand out like so much blood in the snow. Starring Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson and Edward Furlong. Directed by Barbet Schroeder. Written by Ted Tally. Produced by Barbet Schroeder and Susan Hoffman. A Buena Vista release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images of violence, brief strong language and some sensuality. Running time: 108 min
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