Runtime: 83 minutes
Directors: Stephen Kunken and Jack Lewars
Writer: Finnerty Steeves
Stars: Finnerty Steeves, Jeremy Davidson
By Morgan Roberts
Breakup films are more drawn out and cliched than romantic comedies these days. Which is why “Before/During/After” feels like a breath of fresh air.
Jennie (Finnerty Steeves) is a character actor in New York, looking back on her marriage after its demise. You see moments of Jennie and her husband David (Jeremy Davidson) throughout their marriage, all the good, bad, and ugly bits. You see them at their wedding reception. You see them in love and planning their future. You see them at the beginnings of the fracture of their marriage. And you see them as the inevitable occurs.
“Before/During/After” is a truly spectacular film. It is a smart, well-crafted, and sophisticated piece of cinema.”
You really feel for Jennie. Is she perfect in her marriage? No. But the hurt that she eventually feels is not diminished by her imperfections. Likewise, while David is not perfect in the marriage, he is not the villain of the story. Jennie and David go from one marriage counselor to another, trying to fix their broken marriage. It was nice to see therapy used in a constructive manner and never framing their broken marriage as a failure. They are two people who tried but still couldn’t make it.
Seeing her after her divorce in a non-glaringly destructive manner was refreshing. Does she handle every moment well? Of course not. But she is handling it in a grown-up way with grown-up friends who support her through her life. It is the moments with her friends that I found equally impressive. There was a supportiveness that was reciprocal. Even though her life was in a tailspin, she never lost her ability to support her friends in their lives.
“The film was also written by Steeves. Her writing is smart, particular, and human. The dialogue is equally sophisticated and relatable.”
On top of her marriage, you also see Jennie at work, or more, auditioning for work. It is interesting to see her as a human woman and an actress colliding. Her self-worth, her self-image, and the way the world views her is extenuated in the acting forum. I find acting to be the most interesting profession. Day in and day out, you are empathizing with others and being the most vulnerable, but unless you are a white dude, being “method” and allowing transference is a delicate balance. Seeing Jennie teeter and attempt to find that balance was particularly interesting to me.
The film boasts a non-linear structure. There are some films that struggle with non-linear structure, but this one really elevated the narrative. It was this structure that also made the film very nuanced. The film was also written by Steeves. Her writing is smart, particular, and human. The dialogue is equally sophisticated and relatable. A prime example is the way Jennie interacted with others and her friends; while Jennie was the focus of our film, Steeves never let her feel isolated or ego-centric. Every bit of the film plot points and character development felt deliberate without it feeling stiff and predictable. That comes down to Steeves’ writing.
There were some great cameos in this film as well from Deirdre O’Connell to Michael Emerson to Kate Burton to Carrie Preston to Richard Masur. At one point in the film, I audibly shouted “Miriam Shor!” at her brief onscreen appearance. It had to be done.
“Before/During/After” is a truly spectacular film. It is a smart, well-crafted, and sophisticated piece of cinema that highlights the trials, tribulations, and triumphs before, during, and after divorce.
“Before/During/After” is billed alongside many others on the Greenpoint Film Festival. Due to COVID-19 the festival will be accessible through drive-in cinemas from August 1st to 9th in Brooklyn NY. “Before/During/After” will be premiering 06:30:pm on August 7th at The Lot Drive in.
Find out more here: https://greenpointfilmfestival.org/portfolio/before-during-after-2/