Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: After.Life

Starring: Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, Justin Long
Directed by: Agnieszka Wójtowicz-Vosloo
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 104 minutes

I heard about this movie a few years ago on G4's Attack of the Show on a movie review segment. If I remember correctly, it didn't get a good review, but it still sounded interesting. During winter break, I was able to pick this up at the library and bring it back to the dorm to watch on the weekend.

Anna Taylor is an unhappy middle school teacher. She has a selfish mother and her complex (and sometimes indifferent, cold) feelings toward her boyfriend Paul make their relationship rocky. One day, after school, Anna attends a funeral for her former decease music teacher. The atmosphere is quite solemn, but something strikes Anna during the viewing that she quickly shakes off. Later, she meets Paul at a restaurant and he has a surprise for her. The dinner starts off promising until Paul's ambiguous talk upsets Anna. Paul tries to calm her down as she storms off to her car and drives away from him quickly. Clearly distraught from the misunderstand, Anna cries and the weather resembles her furious tears. She reaches for her cellphone to make a call and suddenly, she wakes in the morgue to a familiar face. It's the mortician Eliot that she saw at the funeral earlier. Confused by her surroundings, she asks Eliot where she is and what she is doing there. Eliot calmly answers that she is dead and he is there to help her cross over.

Judging by the title, viewers can easily guess that this movie is about what happens after you die. We follow Anna's struggle throughout the movie with her acceptance that she has passed on. On the other side, Paul is also struggling accepting this fact as well. Although, that sounds a bit boring put in those words, but there's plenty of twists and turns in this film. Anna comes to a couple realizations that she still loves Paul and she wants to fix things with her life. The dead also assure her that she is not ready to cross over either.

Christina Ricci did a decent job portraying Anna. Although her character was a bit frustrating between the cold feelings toward Paul and her fights with Eliot, I still wanted her to have her happy ending and fight harder. Justin Long was also pretty decent on his portrayal of Anna's boyfriend Paul. His emotions and actions were believable and I felt sorry for him a lot of the time. Eliot, played by Liam Neeson, had a nice subtle dark shadow about his character that made me curious through the whole movie. Beatrice, Anna's mother, could've had a bigger part to show the impact on Anna's character. Sure, she showed up in the important parts, but she didn't stand out too much like Paul and Eliot.

So, the story was enjoyable for the most part, but predictable at times. There were some nice shots in there as well that I got to admire, but the beauty quickly disappeared when the camera shifted. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but it was nice having those moments. There was also one scene dealing with Anna and Paul in a bathroom that I could've lived without. It seemed like it was trying too hard to reach in the horror area of the story. I don't know if it was just me having this problem, but I thought the audio levels were a bit frustrating in certain areas. I also felt they could've elaborated a little more on Jack, one of Anna's students. Not too much that it overshadows the main story, but enough for viewers to get attached to him emotionally.

In the end, the director had all the greatest intentions for this movie and I commend her for thinking up this intriguing concept, but I wish it wasn't so predictable. I will also give her points for all the subtle hints along the way as well. The movie wasn't terrible nor a waste of time, so I won't discourage anyone from seeing it.

Rating: 2.5/5

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