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.
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 arenít.
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 Ė I wonít give it
away but Iím sure Iím not the only one who figures out the central mystery
well before it is revealed on film.
I will go so far to say Ė
because this is such a vital plot point of After that is almost
impossible to discuss the film without it Ė 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 personís 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?
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.
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.