Saturday, November 22, 2014

After DVD Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Set in the winter of 2002 in chilly upstate New York, After tells the story of a middle-class family struggling with the financial consequences of a failing business and a series of inter-generational conflicts and rivalries. But what truly threatens to upset their delicate balance - and shatter the emotionally fragile family matriarch - is an intricately buried secret that, if revealed, could alter their lives irrevocably. Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13, The Doors, Breakdown) stars as Nora Valentino, a woman whose husband, Mitch (John Doman; Blue Valentine, The Company Men), loves her more than anything in the world. So much so that he, along with his four children and sister-in-law, have gone to extreme lengths to hide a horror too painful for Nora to bear.

Film (3 out of 5 stars)
The Valentino family walks on eggshells when around each other. Nora, the matriarch of the family is fragile and everyone tries to avoid the topic. Because of this, the family is frozen and can’t move on. Christian, the oldest son, has taken over the family stone business, but finds that in the last year, his father has let the business fall behind. When he tries talking to his father, he is put off again and again.

Christina’s siblings also tread lightly. His sister, Maxine, has been dating Andrew for a few years, though when he proposes, she hesitates so as not to upset the peace in the family. Their brother, Nicky, is a tattoo artist, a drunk and is always in trouble. The baby of the family, Samantha, has moved to New York City with her husband. 

As life goes on for the family, they all try their best to make everything perfect, but for Nora, she’s so fragile that the family members hesitate to leave her along in the house for any length of time. There’s a schedule worked out between Nora’s husband and her sister to always be with her. When a night her sister doesn’t return home turns into day, Nora finds information that could set her back in her road to recover and makes her more fragile than ever.

When I first started watching is movie, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I correctly predicted one of the major secrets, but did not predict the cause. After the big reveal, I realized I should have been able to predict it, the clues were all there. Kathleen Quinlan did a great job as Nora. Her fragility was really spot on, and the family reactions were really realistic. Once I really got into the film, I found myself invested in the lives of these people and interested in them.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
After’s 16x9 widescreen presentation is simple, but good. There isn’t a lot of action and the film can be dark. The dark scenes were clear and daytime scenes were bright enough. It has a gritty feel to it, but that’s not a bad thing. At best, the video presentation was average, not spectacular, and I had no issues with it.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
A dialogue-driven film, After’s English audio was also average. Everything was clear and could be heard. There are no subtitles or any extra sound included. Again, I had no issues with the audio.
Extras (0 out of 5 stars)
There are no special features on the DVD.
Summary (2 out of 5 stars)
After is an interesting film. The secret the family holds is devastating and sad, and they take great pains in keeping the peace and helping Nora cope. Once the secret is revealed, the title makes much more sense. I enjoyed watching it on a rainy Saturday afternoon. While I’m not sure if I will watch it again, I would recommend it and it will find a place with my DVDs.

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