Director: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
Cast: Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, Justin Long, Chandler Canterbury, Josh Charles, Celia Weston
MPAA Rating: (for nudity, disturbing images, language and brief sexuality)
Running Time: 1:43
Release Date: 4/9/10
Review by Mark Dujsik | April 8, 2010
major theme of After.Life is that some people go about their entire lives as if
they are already dead. Regrets are
for these people but are useless things to have. There's no time to waste.
coming from a movie that is a regret and waste of time to watch.
are only two ways that After.Life
could turn out, and instead of picking one and running with it,
co-writer/director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo presents both possibilities as a
possibility until the very end, at which point she decides not to make a
is a clear case of writing oneself into a corner, and Wojtowicz-Vosloo and
fellow screenwriters Paul Vosloo and Jakub Korolczuk do just that. In leaving both options on the table, they have written major,
unavoidable gaps in logic, of both the common and storytelling type. Instead of pondering the implications of a definitive choice of either
one, the audience is left to contemplate just what in the hell is happening. It's frustrating and arrogant, and yet, somewhat thankfully, also
question is whether or not Anna (Christina Ricci) is dead. After getting into a fight with her boyfriend Paul (Justin Long), she
storms out of the restaurant and onto a dark, rainy expressway. It seems, from the very little the movie shows of them as a couple, all
they do is fight; he even says, "Can't we get through one dinner without
fighting," right before he's about to propose to her. He loves her, of course, but at some point, this whole always-fighting
thing should have struck him as a red flag about the potential for their
relationship. It's at least a
funnier scene than the already amusing depiction of their boring sex life. The writers cram in a lot of front-heavy angst and guilt here, just so
everyone gets the point.
that wet, dim-lit highway, Anna crashes and awakes on the slab of mortician
Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson) in the basement of his funeral home. Anna argues she's not dead; Deacon tells her, "You're
dead. Your opinion doesn't count anymore."
is so bigoted toward the dead, because he's been talking to them for most of his
life. At least that's his story. He has a gift, he tells Anna (and cryptically hints to anyone who'll
listen)—it's his curse.
Anna is dead, and Deacon can speak to the dead. That's fine and dandy. Wait,
though, if Anna is dead, how can she physically interact with the world around
her? Why does her breath appear on
windows and mirrors, which Deacon then wipes off before she can see it? What's the actual purpose of the paralytic he injects into her only when
he's expecting company? How does she
call Paul from the funeral home, in one of the lamest escape attempts ever made
by someone whose primary motivation is to get out of a place?
Anna is alive, and Deacon is a demented serial killer, putting those with
miserable lives out of their misery because they simply cannot appreciate that
which is most important in life—love. Yes,
the movie pulls the love card as its big, deeper meaning.
Deacon is a murderer, what kind of planning does this setup, which the movie
then shows him doing more than once, entail? The coincidences necessary for this angle to work are staggering to the
point that it makes no sense.
of coincidences, Deacon comes across a co-conspirator in his unknown modus
operandi, a young boy (Chandler Canterbury) who either shares his gift of gab
with the deceased or his sociopathic tendencies. He also happens to be or have been one of Anna's
students. Paul punches him in the face. That's
not really relevant, but it should be noted as the movie's most unintentionally
and the kid are not a good gauge of the movie's premise, but then again, neither
is Anna. If alive, she passes up
each and every of her many opportunities to run away from Deacon's dungeon of
despair. If dead, her multiple
instances of physical interaction are a poor red herring.
down to what's actually presented, the whole movie is misdirection, executed
without any subtlety. Ricci is an
annoyance in the role, partly because of her character's indecisiveness and
partly because of her own shrill delivery. Neeson
plays the role of the creepy funeral director straight, which just makes his
prejudice against the dead a recurring joke.
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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