I had goose bumps all throughout “After.Life”.
The movie is a modern noir that follows the life of a funeral director (Liam Neeson) who possesses a special gift that allows him to see and hear people transitioning between life and death. We also follow Anna (Christina Ricci), an unhappy woman who, on the night her boyfriend Paul (Justin Long) was going to propose to her, picks a fight with him – and then tragically figures in an accident. The next scenes involve Anna waking up from her gurney, ready to be embalmed, but refusing to believe that she’s dead. How else was she able to talk to Eliot Deacon, the funeral director, if she were otherwise? In the next 3 days, it is Mr. Deacon’s task to convince Anna that she indeed has died, to “prepare her” to cross to the other side.
Meanwhile, in the midst of Anna’s ambivalence, she sends signals to her bereaved boyfriend. I found myself all creeped out! Director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo’s debut movie is a weird, albeit enthralling piece that’s not for everyone. Child actor Chandler Canterbury helped in laying on the willies, as his character Jack keeps reminding Paul that he “saw her standing by the window”. And was the child’s mother dead too? The film will keep you guessing! Production design is top notch, with an interplay of colors, set pieces and location that contributes to a general unsettling atmosphere.
Ricci's nude shots are aplenty, but they are elegantly framed and executed, sensuous to some degree, but never gratuitous.
There were questions that begged answers: When Anna looked at her reflection, we would find her fogging the mirror, which would mean, she is breathing. Is she? Is she alive? Did she have a chance of coming back to life had Eliot allow her to? And why was the funeral director (Neeson) so reluctant on letting her go if it was indeed his intention to help?
Ricci gives perfect pathos to a difficult role, and we have to salute her for a brave performance that required her to be naked during most of her “dead” scenes. That must have been difficult. But with a body as flawlessly beautiful like she has, why wouldn’t she?