It is becoming a cliché to say that it is a movie (or a book, a show or an album) Actually about grief and traumaand I can imagine that this will only get worse over the coming months and even years. But Stacey GreggDramatic thriller “Here before,” It’s about a woman who believes that the daughter of the new neighbors is the reincarnation of her own lost boy, it’s actually about grief and trauma and she treats these issues with tenderness and grace. And then What’s more, it’s shocking and scary.
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Laura (Andrea Riseborough) and Brendon (Martin McCann) lost their daughter Josie in a car accident and these abstract images open the picture. (Has any single movie in movie history started with a family trip that night in the rain that didn’t turn into tragedy?) They kind of got through and had a son and lived their lives and then a new family moves in next door and Laura meets Megan (Niamh Dornan), her “little girl”. A connection is formed, one of those inexplicable but undeniable things – maybe there is an explanation for it. “The little girl reminds me of Josie, that’s all,” Laura says to Brendon, and he is a little worried.
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He should be. This little girl keeps saying these strange things and seems to know things she shouldn’t know about Josie and Laura and Brendon and their family. “Have you been here before, Megan?” Asks Laura carefully as she starts reading books about reincarnation and asking key questions. Her husband squeezes, “We all miss Josie. But Megan’s not Josie. ”
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“How do you know?” Laura answers. “How can you be sure?”
The picture and its protagonist both know exactly what cuckoo bananas look like (“I understand that I sound crazy because I can hear myself,” says Laura). But is it really like that? Anyone who has lost someone they love knows that moment, that desperate, pleading moment of falling on your knees and hoping and praying that the one who is gone forever will come back. What if they did? What would you say? How would you act? What would it take to convince you?
Andrea Riseborough who is kind of still not a giant starcan do just about anything. Even so, she’s especially good at playing those women who smile and smile and barely stick together. In the hands of a lesser actor, this could be camp or worse; but there is a grave Greek tragedy in theirs. In particular, the support staff is also competent Eileen O’Higgins (of “Brooklyn”) as Megan’s mom trying her best to be kind and flattering and then realizing that won’t work. She and Riseborough share a porch scene that goes from polite pleas to hissing and growling, and the rhythm of that scene, the accuracy with which it goes south is amazing.
But “Here Before” is filled with those little moments of passing truth. Gregg, who wrote and directed, has mainly written for television. While this is her directorial debut, she is a born filmmaker. It creates the tension between these families from their first scene together, in the unspoken way they look at each other (and in the assumptions they will articulate when the inevitable conflict arises), and it often just builds that unrest with the composition of their frame on or the timing of the reactions. She can perform a cut or a piece of music with an annoying force and makes a meal out of the slow, steady accumulation of fear and dread in the back half of the film. It works, and any filmmaker who can do it while also threading the strong grief and trauma material should do what the hell they want as an encore. [A]
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