After.Life - Movie - Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci - Film Review
LIAM NEESON'S RETURN TO FORM
by Kevin Bowen
published April 11, 2010
now playing in select theaters
Is it time to ponder the career of Liam Neeson?
Perhaps yes, as he enters the theaters for the second time in two weeks. Last week, he posed
through the role of Zeus in Clash of the Titans. This week it’s the psychological thriller
There was a little streak between Schindler’s List and the biopic Michael Collins where Neeson seemed destined for great things. Now, his screen presence is that of a late,
bloated Orson Welles or a Charlton Heston hemmed in by defining roles. When he enters the screen, sometimes the joke seems like it’s on him.
It still feels like slumming for his Schindler’s co-star Ralph Fiennes to take a role in
Titans. Yet nowadays it feels like Neeson’s home.
Still, a smart director can still use his sunless presence to strong effect, as the Dutch debutant Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo does in this
unsettling psychological thriller. The result is the first effective Neeson performance that I’ve seen in quite some time. Not that that is
saying nearly as much as it once did.
Neeson plays a solemn mortician who might have a special gift. Is he a psychically endowed loner kindly helping the recently dead to the
afterlife? Or is he a delusional serial killer? A mostly naked Christina Ricci is the prospective corpse who is about to find out. The whole
thing plays like a good, long Twilight Zone episode, always on the precipice between irony and
is a creepy little number that keeps threatening to ruin itself but never quite does. It solves its own mystery and then reverses course. You
will likely leave the theater discussing with a friend exactly what was going on. In this it trusts its audience enough to forego the typical
Hollywood rule of complete explanation. I also like the look of the film and the wide use of the
frame. This is one of the little secrets of horror films today – they’re among the most willing to take visual chances.
It is left to Neeson to bring the thing home. He has the soft eyes and hard hands of Robert Mitchum, placed in the cold mouth of Gary Cooper.
It suggests something kind or something sinister, and we’re never sure which. In a role of a man who might talk to souls, Neeson gives a
fairly spirited performance as spiritless man.
kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com