Before and After is the 1996 film directed by Barbet Schroeder and based on the novel by Rosellen Brown. It stars Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Edward Furlong, Alfred Molina, John Heard and Julia Weldon.
While this film was made over a decade ago, I found the storyline interesting in terms of looking at things from a new perspective.
The film deals with a young boy (Furlong) who commits murder, and returns home to find his life torn apart. The film itself focuses on the viewpoint of his parents (Streep/Neeson,) who react instinctively to protect their son once they find out his guilt.
What I related to most of all in this movie was its realistic portrayal of characters. If you were a parent who had a teenager that committed murder, would you turn them into the police or do anything to defend them, even if that means lying and sacrificing your own freedom? In addition, if you were a teenager, and committed a crime under the same circumstances (basically an “accident gone wrong,”) would you tell the truth and serve time, or would you lie in attempt to keep your freedom and save your reputation? Such questions are the audience forced to ask themselves in context of this movie.
Perhaps I should read the book to get a deeper feel for some of the movie’s most intense scenes, but the movie itself did a great job in flipping the coin on the traditional murder-investigation. This film reminded me a lot of 2001’s In the Bedroom, in which the parents are forced to take the law into their own hands when their son’s murder goes unjustly overlooked. Before and After is the exact opposite premise; what happens when parents have to face the fact that their son is a murderer? This brings about more questions of moral superiority between the importance of family vs. the importance of “doing what’s right” in the eyes of the law.
Overall, this film shows an inside look at how much can change from the existence of one event. It portrays how hundreds of families must have felt, and what they had to endure from the media and society, when their own flesh and blood was accused of a crime.