After.Life (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on April 14, 2013 | Comments
Roadshow | Region Free | 2.40:1, 1080p | English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 | 102 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
After.Life BD Cover Art
Credits
Director: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
Starring: Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, Justin Long, Celia Weston, Chandler Canterbury
Screenplay: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, Paul Vosloo, Jakub Korolczuk
Country: USA
External Links
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You have to love it when a first time director hits every nail right on its head, and here, with After.Life, Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo does just that. The director is also the co-writer along with Paul Vosloo and Jakun Korolczuk. and the three of them have crafted an amazing story with some intriguing set pieces and excellent performances from the cast. Not bad for a first swing of the hammer.

After.Life tells the tale of uptight school teacher Anne (Christina Ricci), who is in a problematic relationship with lawyer Paul (Justin Long), the problems being constant fighting, and in general she just seems completely disinterested. After an argument that starts as a misunderstanding, Anne jumps in her car and has a horrific accident, where she is pronounced dead at the scene.

Until she wakes up on the slab at the mortuary.

Funeral Director Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson) is attending to her body, and explains that he has the ability to communicate with the dead, a gift he believes helps the souls of the deceased transition from their living state to the other side. He tells Anne that it's not an easy passage for everyone, and he feels that she might be one of those who finds the transition complicated. Anne is not thoroughly convinced however and feels as though she is still alive, so it takes all of Deacon's patience to help her. With her burial just a few days away he is under a time constraint, but Anne's concerns that she is not actually dead, and is instead being held prisoner, keep resurfacing, and after a time those concerns may be not so unfounded...

Wojtowicz-Vosloo's skills lie in two main areas: inspiring excellent performances from her cast, and scene setting. Every scene was lit and decorated like a painting, and put together with the kind of meticulousness that would make Dario Argento sweat, while the character and dialogue driven script really let the cast show their stuff. Ricci's character's fractured personality mixed with confusion made her initially unlikable, but eventually you felt badly for her plight. The perve in me must point out a lot of nudity from her as well! Liam Neeson came across as kindly, but also a little bit creepy, and played his role like a less vaudevillian Vincent Price, while Justin Long actually acted for the first time in his life, and didn't just seem like the Mac/PC guy.

All in all, After.Life is a delicate film with some great performances. The constantly evolving script never puts the viewer at ease, letting us think Anne is dead in one scene but then giving us reason to suspect otherwise in the next, and the film has an atmosphere that is almost dreamlike at times but also drips with a creepiness that could only be compared to an old guy in a raincoat on a school bus.
The Disc
After.Life's 2.40:1 HD presentation is almost perfect, with a remarkably sharp image and consistently vivid colours. While somewhat restrained given the subtle nature of the film, the English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio still manages to excel, making use of every channel.

Extras are non-existent. A shame, considering overseas releases come with an audio commentary by director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo and a making-of, both of which could potentially shed some light on After.Life's more ambiguous aspects.
The Verdict
I didn't know anything about After.Life going into it, and have to admit to being totally impressed The performances of all were superb and the story will keep you guessing right to the end, and perhaps even for some time after.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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