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|Index||12 reviews in total|
A very moving and thought provoking film that raises issues of mental
health, terminal illness and euthanasia. Sound a bit too heavy? It is a
little, but this is all treated in a realistically straight forward way
within a story of the changes that take place to the family who have to
deal with these things. This is a positive story of facing up to life
and responsibility that isn't overwhelm by the subject matter.
Afterlife is beautifully shot and crafted film set in modern times and dealing with modern issues. It is a character driven, enthralling film with a strong cast and some very good performances.
Unfortunate it is not the sort of film that always performs well at the box office, so catch it while you can.
I agree with Andy, this is a good movie. Kevin McKidd's character is believable throughout the film. We're forced to hate him and latterly sympathise with him. Paula Sage who plays Roberta puts in a good performance too. It's thought-provoking and emotive without any slush over-production. Credit to director Alison Peebles and writer Andrea Gibb for that. A very worthwhile viewing. The pace of the film is just right, raising just enough interest in the subject matter to reel you in, rather than bombard you with facts in a documentary style. Nice little soundtrack to go with the film too, again used sparingly, not to distract you from storyline. Recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before I had seen this film, I had heard some negative comments about it.
However, when watching it I found myself thinking "ok, it's a little
slow-paced but this is quite interesting". As it built toward the end,
created a complex moral dilemma, leading to a shocking yet, within the
context of the film, entirely believable decision with extremely powerful
dramatic consequences. If this had been followed through, it would have
been a tremendously powerful ending and would have given me a very
favourable impression of the film.
However, due to an ending which not only cops out emotionally, tacking on an unnecessary happy-ish ending without real emotional credibility but also within the context of the film makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for you clearly see one of the character take an action which should end her life but inexplicably doesn't. Incidentally, please tell me if I did miss something here and there is a reason why she survives as I just couldn't how logically she could have and this wrecked the whole film for me.
This said, all three leads put in powerful performances although Kevin McKidd's characters' transformation by the end goes a little further than is fully convincing and it does create a very powerful ethical triangle.
This film is recommended if you ready yourself to walk out when the mother and the sister are lying on the bed. But do not watch further than this unless you have only a pinch, but several mountains, of salt.
Not an easy film to like at first with both the lead characters quite unlikeable but luckily the heart and soul of the film is Paula Sage's touching performance which drives the film into uncharted waters and transcends the rather awkward storyline. This gives the film a feeling of real truth and makes you think you've seen something special.(7/10)
This film may be low budget but it is certainly high on the emotional
with fantastic performances, especially from Paula Sage (Roberta) who has
Downs Syndrome. The film is very funny and moving and depicts Roberta in
completely different way than characters with special needs are usually
shown - she is selfish, rude but also very funny - in fact most of the
humour in the film comes from Roberta. The relationship between Kenny
(Kevin McKidd) and May (Lindsay Duncan) is realistic and insightful.
The ending is very moving, a little twist had us all cringing in our seats as we awaited the final outcome. This film quite rightly won the audience award at the Edinburgh Film Festival with the highest votes ever.
This is a great example of very none Hollywood film making which is
very thought provoking, moving and not without a sense of humor, Kevin
McKidd and Paula Sage are superb.
I actually watched it on late night TV and I can see why I missed it in the cinema, its not the sort of film that the multi-screen "mega" cinemas show nowadays, mores the pity.
I am going to look for the DVD. Not for those who prefer, the current trend towards special effects and no story. If you liked the best selling book "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time", you'll enjoy this film.
This film ranks beside the best of Scottish films, such as "Small Faces" and "trainspotting". All films which Kevin McKidd also star in.
Rather condescendingly and disappointingly this DVD has English
subtitles come up by default. Why? Because it's Scottish and whilst
some accents are stronger than others, most, if not all dialogue will
be quite clear to all of us, here in Britain.
Actress Alison Peebles, who's CV looks a bit bleak, debuts with this her first, and only feature film. It's quite dour, depressing at times and is held together mainly by some now familiar actors and their performances.
Kevin McKidd and Shirley Henderson, both stars in Trainspotting, here play arrogant journalist and his photographer/artist girlfriend, respectively. Both have carved Hollywood careers since. As Kenny, he starts out following a story concerning one of those now notorious Swiss euthanasia clinics, after a man suspected of being mentally unwell was 'treated' there and wasn't in a position to decide his fate for himself.
This rather pales into the background as the intense Kenny copes with his mother, May, who is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her chances are slim. He is further bound by his Downs syndrome sister, Roberta, whose character blows through the otherwise maudlin story like a breath of fresh air. Real-life Downs sufferer Paula Sage cannot help bring smiles and tears - anyone who knows a Downs person (I worked with one) know all too well their zest for life and can be very characterful but also their vulnerabilities.
These elements do - though not always smoothly, or satisfactorily run alongside and with each other. Kenny is obviously annoyed by his sister's long term incapacity and the limits that puts on his freedom, both as journalist and future life with his new girlfriend. This is intentionally made obvious, but that doesn't make him, or the film any more pleasant.
Some reviews on other sites have said how the ending was a disappointment, or other phrases meaning much the same thing. Obviously, without even hinting what that is, I would say that I for one, was OK with it.
I have to admit that I bought this DVD in error, as I was in a shop many years ago and knew of another film with the same name, but without being able to access reference material, I bought the wrong one. I found the one I wanted later (Hirokazu Koreeda's 1998 Japanese film).
So, get this mainly for early performances - including Eddie Marsden - and a sterling and at times uplifting performance from Paula Sage.
Just a very short note to disagree with Andrew Whyte's (?) comment.
I didn't think this film had much to do with "Rainman", certainly it's about an adult with a very different handicap from the autistic spectrum problems that Hoffman's character had. Putting someone with Down's syndrome as a central and very real protagonist here is far more challenging than putting someone with autistic problems centrally and I thought the film, as well as the actress, managed that rather better than Hoffman et al. managed the parallel challenge.
I did think the acting in this was weak in places and certainly there's a lot of shouting. I thought the subplot about the brother having given up medicine was almost too lightly played but perhaps as someone who stayed that distance but always with ambivalence about medics and our delusions of grandeur, I would be sympathetic to that. Although some acting did seem stretched, I thought the handicapped daughter and mother were very, very good.
Not a great film and probably not as good as "Rainman" but certainly worth a DVD rental and our whole family, from age 9 to 49, felt it had been a tough but worthwhile rent.
`AfterLife' is about a somewhat arrogant, reasonably wealthy man who
discovers that his mother is dying, and finds himself looking after his
sister, who has Down's Syndrome. He can't be bothered with her, and
basically just wants to get her off his hands; he has better things to
At one point he finds that he has to take her, by car (she doesn't like
flying) across the country.
If that all sounds familiar to you, it is probably because you have seen `Rainman,' a film far superior to its imitator, `AfterLife.' That it copies the basic premise (heck, it nicks a few characters and even scenes too) is not the fundamental problem with the film. The fundamental problem is that I did not care about these characters.
The brother, Kenny (Kevin McKidd), is a bit of a womaniser. He has a girlfriend who comes and goes in the story, and who learns to like the Down's Syndrome sister (again, this is taken from `Rainman'). He is a journalist, trying to get an interview with a doctor who is facing a scandal. When he ends up looking after Roberta, the sister, he doesn't have much time for her, and sometimes leaves her alone for a little too long. When she wanders off, he becomes even angrier towards her. Am I spoiling anything by saying that he becomes a nicer, loving person by the end of the film?
Roberta is not determined to be 'normal'; she is 'normal,' and wishes people would stop treating her differently. She is played by Paula Sage, an actress who does have Down's Syndrome, and her performance is easily the best thing about the film; why did the screenwriter not explore her character more? Well, probably because that would mean the characters would get in the way of the story. When we surely already know the story anyway, didn't the filmmakers see the problem they were creating?
For a film about a dying mother and her handicapped daughter (the father is absent; I think he is dead, but I'm not sure), it is surprising how little impact the film has on the emotions of the viewer. The scenes are performed in such a standard, dull way, with such standard, predictable dialogue, that I found myself rolling my eyes.
I have nothing against sentimentality in films, but it only really works if you care about the characters. Here the characters are so uninteresting and two-dimensional that I didn't really think there was much to care about. `Rain Man' has an emotional climax, but that moved me, because I cared about the characters.
Talking of climaxes, this film has a stinker. There is sequence at the end of the film that starts off as an unbelievable situation and ends up in even worse territory; an unforgivably cruel trick is played on the audience. The sequence is designed to move the audience, but ends up being horribly manipulative and offending the intelligence of the viewer. Audiences aren't stupid, and they know when the film is cheating. What a cheap shot.
There is not one scene in this film that has the impact it should. There are a few sequences that are funny, yes, but when the characters talk to each other, I can practically see the screenplay in front of me, moving predictably and uninterestingly, never hitting anything that touches the mind or the heart. There are those phoney arguments that are reserved especially for the movies, where the other character knows exactly what the reply is. Why don't supposedly 'realistic' films not realise that, in real life, anger can be irrational, and sometimes people can't express their emotions, and they might say things that don't make sense, or not be able to say anything at all? All of the actors in this film deserve better material. This film is not based on fact, but I think a documentary on a family with a Down's Syndrome member would be much more interesting. That way, we might have had truth and emotion. For some reason the characters in this film think that an emotion only involves saying something loudly and making a suitable facial expression.
** (out of 5)
This film takes you through a pretty rough ride. First, you feel like
hating Kenny, the career minded, selfish big brother; his arrogance, his
temper at home, and his womanising ways. As the film progresses however,
is gradually softened by the irresistable nature of his little sister
Roberta, and the realisation of what the future holds.
Roberta provides much of the film's humour with her cheekiness to Kenny and her mum. She also keeps the biggest surprise till the end with a clever twist to the story.
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