Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Life after After.Life
I've been trying to think of a way to tell you how "After.Life" made my wife angry without actually giving away the reasons. Maybe by the time I reach the end of this post, I'll have it figured out.
"After.Life" is the story Anna (Christina Ricci) and her time with funeral director Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson) as he prepares her for her funeral. The thing is, Anna doesn't think she's dead.
Here's what's good about the movie: Ricci is hot. She spends most of the movie in a short red nightgown and yes, shows her goods a lot.
"After.Life" plays like an R-rated episode of the 1980s revamp of "The Twilight Zone." All the ideas (and the twisted ending) are there, but the heart isn't.
If you've watched a lot of "Twilight Zone" you know that things aren't always fair. Sometimes the bad guys win. Sometimes the good guys get screwed over. Sometimes there are happy endings. The ending of "After.Life" made my wife mad. Yes, it had one of those weird "Twilight Zone" endings, but wasn't as satisfying. She doesn't like movies where the majority of the plot hinges on one moment of miscommunication. Anna freaks out when her boyfriend Paul (Justin Long) tells he he's been given a promotion and will have to move to Chicago. She thinks he's leaving her when he was planning to propose to her. If she'd listened a little longer, she wouldn't have ended up in Deacon mortuary.
Most of the movie has Anna and Deacon talking about how Anna really is dead and how she had no life left in her, anyway. There are hints int he opening scenes of Anna being depressed and a bloody nose in the shower subplot that goes nowhere. Anna also has a controlling mother that adds some characterization but is never a fully realized relationship.
The same can be said for much of the film. There are ideas that go nowhere and decent acting that doesn't pan out in the end. It's no surprise, then, that the first I heard of this movie was one day, about a year ago, looking through horror movies at a Best Buy. It wasn't until a couple days ago that my wife and I finally watched it. There wasn't a rush. "After.Life" is interesting but unimportant. No one's career (except maybe director/co-writer Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo) will hinge on whether or not you see this movie.
In a way, Anna situation is the perfect metaphor for the film. Her life is incomplete and unsatisfying. "After.Life" is lacking heart and the ending is not as satisfying as it could have been (even with the maddening resolution).
Threat level: BLUE. Unless you really just need to see Christina Ricci's boobs, then it's a RED.