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Before and After (1996)

PG-13 | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 23 February 1996 (USA)
Two parents deal with the effects when their son is accused of murdering his girlfriend.



(book), (screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kaiulani Lee ...
Ellen Lancaster ...
Oliver Graney ...


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 <sweet_t_prod@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A murder. A suspect. A shadow of a doubt.


Crime | Drama | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images of violence, brief strong language and some sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 February 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Antes y después  »

Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,023,815 (USA) (25 February 1996)


$8,797,839 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


[Jude visits her and Jake's tree house]
Judith Ryan: Jake? I know you don't wanna talk, but I just need to see you. Can I come up? Please?
[No response. Jude turns away, dejected. Then, the ladder falls down. Jude climbs up]
Judith Ryan: Can I just ask you one question?
[Jake says nothing]
Judith Ryan: Did you ever really go anywhere, Jake?
[Jake still says nothing]
Judith Ryan: Okay. That's cool. I understand. But, just so you know, when you were in that jail, I tried to come. They wouldn't let me. Jake, I really wanted to see you. They act like ...
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Referenced in Stuck on You (2003) See more »


Sonate Pathetique
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A tragic death in a small town
8 August 2004 | by (brooklyn NY) – See all my reviews

****Spoilers**** Sitting at the dinner table with his parents and little sister Jacob,Edward Furlong, finally opens up and tells the story of what happened between him and Martha Traverner, Alison Folland, since Martha was found dead in the snow outside of town. Jacob was on the run as a fugitive from justice for the a week until he was found and arrested at a friends house.

Last seen with Martha as he picked her up where she worked at Jacey's Ice Cream Parlor in town Jacob was the prime suspect in her death. Now after being apprehended and let out on bail he had to get what happened to Martha off his chest and the story wasn't a pretty one, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been either. Jacob did indeed kill Martha but it was a tragic accident. Gripping story about a father and mothers love for their troubled son and how they went about to save him from being put behind bars for killing his girlfriend and how it destroyed their lives as well as, of course, the lives of the parents of the girl who was killed.

Jacob's mother Carolyn Ryan, Meryl Streep, wanted only the truth about her son actions in regard to Martha's death to come out in court and felt that it would exonerate him. His father Ben Ryan, Liam Neeson, on he other hand wanted to do everything possible and even went as far as destroying evidence in order to protect him. Jacob in the end sided with his mother and wrote out a full confession which his father could not bring himself to sign. Jacob was 16 years old and needed his parents signature to make the confession legal, and in effect threw himself on the mercy of the court. Jacob didn't bother to defend his actions which his father and lawyer Penos Demeris, Alfred Molina, begged him to do.

"Before and After" is a story that has no happy ending no matter how you look at it, for both the victim and the accused. Its realism makes the film more effective and believable then most movies about courtroom dramas which usually have cop-out and feel-good or surprise endings. The story is told in retrospect from Jacob's little sisters Judith's, Julia Weldon, point of view. You already see from the start of the movie that things were never the same for Julia and her family when the film started.

Meryl Streep as the mother is both protective and at the same time confident of the court and jury that her son Jacob was to face in his trial. Liam Neeson as the father was just the opposite not trusting the jury to acquit his son no matter how strong the evidence was in Jacob's favor that Martha's death was an accident. Jacob went with his mothers feeling in telling the truth and leaving it up to the judge instead of going to trail. In the end Jacob and his family were left to see if he was right or wrong in that decision.

Strong performances all around with a really powerful scene in the movie towards the end when Carolyn is confronted by Martha's mother Terry, Ann Magnuson, at the hospital where Carolyn works as a doctor. No matter how much Carolyn tries to tell Terry how sorry she is about what happened to her daughter Terry is totally unmoved to the point where Carolyn is overcome with tears. You couldn't blame Terry for feeling like she did, her daughter was dead and Carolyn's son, no matter what the outcome of the court will be, is alive.

Those in the movie acted as if they really believed in what the story was trying to tell us: That a parent burying their child is the worse kind of tragedy imaginable, no matter what the circumstances of their child's death was. The film also brought out that those who have a son or daughter who was responsible for that death will have to, as well as their son or daughter, carry that guilt with them for the rest of their lives as well.

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