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Seven years after his thrilling movie "Haunted", Lewis Gilbert released his next movie, based on the Olivier Award-winning stage play by Shelagh Stephenson (who also adapted it for the big screen). Some critics (like Gaby Wood from "The Observer) loathed it and tore it into shreds, saying, "It was a shame that Gilbert decided to do another movie", others loved its beauty and serenity.
The movie is a tragic comedy, or a funny tragedy. Basically, it's a deeply moving portrayal of a torn-apart family, the story of three wasted lives, but it's also an ode to the women, or to the strength that only women seem to be capable of.
Julie Walters, who was the star of Gilbert's hit movie "Educating Rita", delivers a stunning performance - probably one of the best performances in her entire career. Joanne Whalley is equally good in her portrayal of Mary, and you can't take your eyes off the gorgeous Patricia Hodge, who's playing their mother. The only bad performance, matter-of-factly, comes from Victoria Hamilton who's overacting in every scene she's in. She seemed to be resistant against Gilbert's masterful direction.
Debbie Wiseman's haunting, compelling score is flowing gently through the film, and the photography leaves you breathless. "Before You Go" was shot almost entirely on location on the Isle of Man (only very few shots were made at Twickenham Studios). Gilbert's sense for beautiful settings has always been unique - even in his three former based-on-stage-play movies ("Alfie", "Educating Rita", and "Shirley Valentine") you could perceive that.
Alas, the talents of John Hannah and Tom Wilkinson, both very fine actors, are basically wasted here. But after all, this is a woman's movie. And a great one.
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