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Robert De Niro,
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When teenage son Jacob is being accused of murdering his girlfriend, the well-respected and close-knit Ryan family is in turmoil. Jacob flees, father Ben destroys possible evidence, the village community turns hostile and mother Carolyn is forced to temporarily close her doctor's practice. Then Jacob gets arrested and soon finds himself and his family entangled in a web of truth, trust and lies, all on his way to court. Written by
Swie Tio <email@example.com>
In the scene where Meryl Streep enters a court room to appear in front of the grand jury in the front row (in the middle of the frame) sits a young Paul Giamatti as an extra his head turned around to have a look at her. See more »
During the initial lawyer conference, the sandwich, the napkin, and the sandwich wrapper in front of the lawyer change relative position and the wrapper changes shape, several times, without the lawyer touching them. Or hearing the sound of the wrapper being moved/reshaped. See more »
Compelling theme is weakened with low production standards
The shortcomings of the United States' justice system are explored in "Before and After". A youth (Jacob) is fighting with his girlfriend and she accidentally falls on a jack which kills her. The family grapples with whether or not to tell the truth not only the courts but to their own lawyer and police officer who is a family friend. Is it morally right to tell the truth that the girl's death was nothing more than a mere accident and hope that it will be believed or should a story be made up in the hopes that Jacob will be let off since the police have no evidence. (The father, in the interests of protecting his son, wiped the jack clean of the blood).
We learn of course, that everyone is against the mother and son who want to just tell the truth, especially the lawyer who is interested more in getting Jacob off the hook, no matter how much of a story he has to invent, how many lies he has to tell, how many people's characters he has to besmirch. The moral structure behind the criminal justice system in the U.S. is uncovered as not one that seeks what is right or true but what kind of entertaining bi-polar battles between the defense and the prosecution can be unleashed in a furious game of words.
While the theme of the film is compelling, the production standards are low. This seems more like a made-for-TV movie. With big guns like Liam Neeson and Meryl Streep you'd expect better acting. While Streep's performance is okay, Neeson seems like not the best choice for this role. Also, the actor playing the second dark-haired lawyer seems too clownish for his role. Surprisingly, I found that the young actors were the strongest. The actors playing the two children, especially "Jacob" were extremely skilled.
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