For a family with a surname that connotes love, the Valentino clan of upstate New York has enough issues to be straight out of a Chekhov play.
Pieter Gaspersz’s After sets them in the winter of 2002, and among other things, gruff patriarch Mitch (John Doman) is emotionally distant, obsessed with illegal immigration, and disapproving of his daughter Maxine (Sabrina Gennarino), who desires to marry her long-term, African-American boyfriend, Andy (Darrin Dewitt Henson); eldest son Christian (Pablo Schreiber) is struggling to keep the family stonecutting business afloat; younger and frequently squeaky-voiced son, Nicky (Adam Scarimbolo), is an ex-con and all-around screwup; and brittle matriarch Nora (Kathleen Quinlan) obsesses over VHS tapes sent by prodigal daughter Samantha (Alexi Maggio), who hasn’t bothered to visit since, over Nora’s objections, she moved to New York City the year before.
The final revelation of the big secret that haunts the family — hinted at throughout the movie — is more than a little maudlin, and the dedication feels like nothing so much as ass covering.
Until then, After is a frequently absorbing miserablist family drama shot in appropriately chilly winter tones, and for those who are into tiling and construction, there hasn’t been a movie with this much contractor talk in quite some time.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 6, 2014