Before You Go (2002) Poster

(2002)

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Lovely film, superbly acted.
dbowm22 January 2003
An excellent film with superb acting by all the cast. Encapsulated the lives of three sisters with humour, tragedy, pathos and humanity. A welcome change from some of the more digitalised and violent films of the recent era. Difficult to pick out which was the best actress they were all so good and so different. The funeral scene at the end was brilliant. The audience reaction was one of pure pleasure at a good story well acted and presented. Top marks to the Director.
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Deeply moving and beautifully acted
Coughly19 August 2002
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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touching, gentle, and funny as hell
Catscanfly14 May 2004
this movie may not be perfect, and certainly isn't very well known. My friends and i rented it out, purely because, in a 'movie watching' kinda mood, we could find no others on the shelf we were particularly interested in. We didn't expect much, just an hour or two of distraction.

man, were we wrong. this movie is hilarious, poignant, emotional, and delicate. julie walters shines in her role particularly, and despite not always being wonderful, the movie is definately very funny and good entertainment for those who like something a bit more challenging than 'dumb and dumber."
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10/10
Absolutely Magnificent
chris-373422 July 2006
Understated, poignant, funny, an absolutely wonderful film that engages from the start and never waivers. The acting is faultless as is the direction. The three sisters played by Victoria Hamilton, Julie Walters, and Joanne Whalley are completely convincing as sisters, particularly Whallet who's interaction with her mother's ghost (Patricia Hodge) is well handled. I thought is was marvellous;it can bear repeated watching which, in my book ,is the sign of a good film. Sadly so many contemporary films fail that simple test. It would benefit from much wider exposure. If you get the chance and you like subtle, funny and English films then this is a must see.
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Roundly fails to deliver on the potential inherent in both script and cast
bob the moo19 April 2006
When their mother passes away, estranged sisters Theresa, Mary and Catherine come back together for the funeral. Theresa is the eldest and expected to hold everything together despite her own stresses. Mary is being "haunted" by visions of her dead mother, bringing buried secrets and pain to the surface – a situation not helped by her already fragile relationship with married lover Mike. Meanwhile youngest sister Catherine seems no different from the last time she was seen – spinning from man to man, keeping everything soft with drug use. As the funeral approaches, secret or buried hurts come out within the family.

From Lewis Gilbert and featuring a great cast when I read the credits in the paper, I had reasonable hopes for this film. Sadly they were mostly dashed in a film that didn't seem to have a handle on what it actually wanted to do. The result of this is that the script is keen to embrace a quick joke or attempts at colourful characters but seems either unwilling or (more likely) unable to get to the heart of the matter and deliver and emotionally engaging film that is full or real hurt, real healing and real people. This leaves the film floating around in a way that is not bad but is certainly not any good – meaning that I got more and more bored as the film went on, to the point where I left the room for five minutes but couldn't be bothered to pause the DVD.

The cast aren't able to do much without the help of writer or director. Walters flaps around but is nothing more than a flustered comedy character who doesn't actually produce laughs. Whalley is handed the greater responsibility and the stronger character but fails to do much with it; she and her mother share the strongest scenes but neither is that good and their scenes lack a real emotional hook. Hamilton is only ever annoying and feels like an easy cliché for the writers, once they had written the first two characters. The male support is so-so mainly because neither Hannah or Wilkinson are really given much to work with and are very much on the edges of the film.

Overall this was a disappointing film that didn't do anything that it had the potential to do. Not bad per se but it certainly isn't any good as it roundly fails to deliver on the promise of complex relationships. The cast offer much but aren't given anything to work with and only do OK. Not really worth a look to be honest.
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8/10
well worth watching
norhp19 June 2006
A story of bereavement and grieving with lots of comic relief, an absent minded priest and three very different sisters coming back to their childhood home for the funeral of their Mother. We loved this movie, the location was breathtaking, the actors were excellent and the story kept us glued. Maybe coming from a three sister family and being the youngest I could identify with the characters and their strange relationships with their mother. There was lots of humour in the movie, but we had debates throughout as to the location, the accents were Lancashire/northern English yet they were supposed to have grown up on the Isle of Man. I would recommend this movie as a good watch if you like Julie Walters and British comedy/drama in general, if you're into action and car chases - leave it on the shelf.
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9/10
Don't miss this film
bob-11352 July 2010
An excellent film about how different people cope with grief. It also shows the fallibility of memory over a long period. One character played by Joanne Whaley has the memory of a brutal mother who instead of supporting her when she becomes pregnant at 14 shouts at her and slaps her. This has festered over the years until she has reached the stage of hating her mother. But her memory is fickle and it is not until late on in the film when it is revealed what really happened.

An incredible experience and one that should not be missed, the scene where Julie Walters is starting to pack away her mother's clothes for the charity shop aided by her sisters is hilarious, and so true. People think that death is all about weeping and crying because that is the expected thing to do. It's not and my own personal experience tells me that.

The only thing I regret not happening is that one of the daughters didn't wipe the appalling makeup off their mother's corpse.
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3/10
Very disappointing.
alexa_soul17 April 2007
I am a A Level Drama student and for my final performance my group are performing 'The Memory of Water' the original play by Shelagh Stephenson. As soon as our group read the script we thought it was great, it has plenty of humour and pace and great characters and is a pleasure to read and perform.

So when we discovered this movie version we were expecting a little gem of a film... however this was not the case! Not even the all star cast could save this film from sinking. It was truly disappointing - the acting was poor and the whole mood of the film was completely lack lustre. The directors interpretation completely downplayed all the humour in the play and the witty and bickering tension between the sisters. He turned the play into one long boring non-event.

I would highly recommend the play, but to anyone else performing this play I would give this film version a definite miss as you will only be left disappointed!
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1/10
Very disappointing
filmbuff-9611 December 2008
At no time do you care whether any of the cast are swept under a bus (in fact you start to positively will a 32b to enter through the lounge window and end it all!). The script is laboured and as each character enters they become more irritating than the last. Labelled a comedy drama it is neither of these.

It shows how even a good director such as Lewis Gilbert (Shirley Valentine, Bond movies, Educating Rita. Alfie etc etc) can not make a good film from a bad script.

For Shelagh Stephenson (writer) it must be hurtful to read these sort of comments but if she is honest she will look back at the film and realise what a mess it is. These are early days yet for her but she would do well to remember that audiences need to like at least one of the cast in some way. I could not wait to see the back of them.
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1/10
Dull as ditch water
simon-28523 February 2003
Considering the quality and quantity of 'names' in this film, it is extremely dull and very poorly acted. The plot is dire and the script is deadful. The cast labour over the very unfunny dialogue as if it was the first read-through. It has about as much oomph as a local amateur dramatic company's production.
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10/10
Don't abuse the script when you don't know the whole story.
ORee-215 March 2007
Firstly, some of the acting was terrible however had good intention, you could see that not all of the actors were too comfortable in their roles, excluding Julie Walters of course. I would like to point out that the film was based on the original play script, called 'The Memory of Water' and anyone who has read the actual play will know that the script is a damn sight funnier and a lot more enjoyable then it came across on screen. I would agree that the standard of the film was low but i am going to stick to my guns of recommending that anyone who was disappointed in the film to read the script, as it is excellent. All in all i would just ask anyone who wants to abuse the script that you should read the whole thing first.
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8/10
Beautifully crafted observation of disparate family life
paulsurg8 March 2006
It is very easy to overlook films such as Before You Go in favour of the more spectacular or well-known; and yet there is a real sense of having watched a film that you feel has not only touched you, but done you some actual good - and yet does not come across as overly 'worthy'.

Before You Go is a beautifully observed piece that drops you into the middle of a seemingly dysfunctional and estranged family coping with the early days of bereavement. As the film progresses the sense of diversity in the family shrinks and you are left with the feeling that far from being dysfunctional, this family is really no different from just about every family you've ever met including your own! Lewis Gilbert has done a superb job of turning a mirror on normal family life that seems extreme at first though frighteningly familiar by the end.

The performances from the entire cast are superb, and no character is wasted. Walters, Whalley and Hamilton are wonderfully convincing as the three sisters, with Hannah and Wilkinson also on fine form. The power-play between the 3 siblings is very effective. Walters' portrayal of the 'professionally health conscious' eldest sister who crumbles into the Irish Whisky at the first sign of stress is both touching and often very funny. Though I've always felt sorry for Joanne Whalley in being overlooked for parts with real depth, this for me is her finest piece of work yet. Her fight between being a confident,successful doctor and yet deep fragility in her personal life (typified by her boyfriend, the frankly gloriously unlikeable Hannah as a celeb TV doc) is subtle and well reined-in.

Despite the backdrop of preparing for their mother's funeral, there are many moments of laugh-out-loud humour and levity, and the often fraught emotional scenes are handled with no sense of sentimentalism.

Highly entertaining way to spend an evening!
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Great cast... Awful script
nwadamson20 July 2004
I can't understand why somebody would bother assembling such an amazing cast - Julie Walters, Tom Wilkinson, Victoria Hamilton etc. - and then waste them on such appalling material.

No wonder Britain doesn't have anything approaching a film industry if projects such as this are seen as worthy of funding. TV movies starring Kate Jackson or Lyndsay Wagner ('Please Don't Take My Owl - The Jodie Lee Boxheimer Story' etc. etc.) are eminently more watchable than this trite, aimless, middle class nonsense.

Britain has some of the greatest acting talents in the world. Is this really the best we can come up with for them?

Shameful.
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Failed completely to engage.
nickthistleton3 March 2003
In a film industry where the lack of money spent on script development for the big-budget movies is constantly bemoaned, films like this are supposed to come along and make the viewer yearn for the good old days when movies were rich in character, colour and conversation. After this dire effort, though, I'm back to waiting for the X-Men and Matrix sequels. The cast list suggests better, but the performances across the board are very weak, the characters totally one-dimensional and the story JUST NOT INTERESTING. I suspect it was supposed to be a study of the different ways we deal with personal grief, but the director failed to put this across in any kind of coherent or engaging fashion. I hate to single anyone out for particular criticism, but Joanne Whalley was school-play awful. Save your 90 minutes and do almost anything else.
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I laughed and I cried
wergs210 April 2012
I watched this film on the plane just a little while after my Mom passed away...and I laughed and I cried watching it. In many ways their is something in most peoples past and relationships with parents/lovers/wives which this film does bring to the fore. I found it moving and ultimately satisfying that a resolution was reached by all the characters in their own way. I watched it with our 21 year old daughter last week and she enjoyed it - she who enjoys the latest blockbuster inc Twilight series, Thor, X-Men etc....enjoyed this film about sisters getting together at their mothers funeral. That is a testament in itself!
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