'Before And After'
'Up Close & Personal'
The performances are uni-
cameraperson and on-air talent shots from the control room to an
formly good, although Neeson's
when she fabricates her own demo anchor on air; be at an off-site lo-
n Before and After, Carolyn stubborn bluster and bluff right-
ichelle Pfeiffer and reel, which she sends to 37 TV sta- cation, instructing the crew; or ac-
(Meryl Streep) is a small- eousness is a bit off-putting at
company his talent on a
Robert Redford. Broad- tions hoping for that lucky
pediatrician, sympathet- times. He wants so hard to help
wardrobe shopping trip.
cast News, but better. break. WMIA, Channel 9,
his son, but he may actually be a
He also wouldn't do
You've got Pfeiffer, the accepts and she's Miami-
hands-on editing, since we
epitome of a poster girl for some bound for her first entrance
husband, is a sculptor who
Clinique commercial, and the into the world of TV news — a have unions for all the crew posi- fashions huge metal pieces
rugged, always sexy Redford. Siz- desk-assignment position.
Schenden did say that "the seemingly out of willpower.
Enter Warren Justice (Redford),
zling chemistry at its best.
When their teen-age son Ja-
But what about a little reality WMIA news director. He slices, he movie presented a positive por- cob (Edward Furlong) is ac-
check here. Up Close & Personal dices, he does it all — as director,
cused of murder, we are
starts with Sallyanne Atwater producer, editor, mentor and, of mate. You put your life on the line witnesses to the dissolution
(Pfeiffer), a waitress-turned-craps course, eventual lover and hus-
of an American family when
dealer in Reno. Atwater plays band of Atwater, whose name he ry." This was particularly telling it is confronted with legal un-
changes to "Tally" At-
certainties and a moral
water for a little more were locked inside a prison during
panache. Yes, it's fun to
Throughout this ordeal, Can Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson, as parents,
take a behind-the- ing a story, one of the most excit-
stress and strain on each muster the same protectiveness for their son
scenes look at television, ing scenes in the movie.
family member is shown in during the most heart-wrenching of situations?
Special honorable "mentshens"
but is this really how it
to several supporting cast mem- excruciating detail. Does the
mother's willingness to cooperate
liability. Streep is exceptional once
I think not. So, to val- bers: Stockard Channing, as a
with the local law enforcement re- again, illuminating with subtle
idate my hunch, I called
veal glaring naivete? Does the fa- gestures and looks a mother's un-
my buddy at FOX 2 chor; Kate Nelligan, as a network
ther's microscopic knowledge of
conditional love for her son.
News — who's seen it
Furlong, who previously
all and done it all as the Joe Mantegna as the slimy but lov-
and legal rights lead to ob-
starred as a rebellious
news-planning produc- able agent; and Glenn Plummer,
struction of justice? Car-
teen-ager in Terminator
er —Kristin Schenden. as Tally's cameraman and confi-
olyn and Ben's polar
II, is cast here as a wan
Schenden was taking a dant. Pfeiffer's real-life sister,
opposite responses to the criminal teen, so sullen as to be nearly
sneak peek at Up Close Dedee Pfeiffer, plays Pfeiffer's
charges against their son will pro- autistic. By withdrawing so deeply
& Personal the same downtrodden sister in the film.
test the fiber of their fam- into his role, he forces the viewer
If you're forgiving about TV
night that I was re-
news production and a lengthy ily and determine its ultimate to be drawn into the film.
Rather than gnawing at the
"The movie wasn't movie — I thought it was over
Throughout it all, one family heart of darkness that enshrouds
realistic as a business twice — you're going to enjoy get-
member, the younger sister Ju- the American criminal-justice sys-
in a lot of ways — the ting up close and personal with
dith (Julia Weldon), provides com- tern, Before and After bares the
content was too loose Pfeiffer and Redford. Stay tuned
pelling narrative that is brutally soul of the American family in its
and the scenes too for news at 11.
honest and thoughtful. Judith's most trying hour.
Learning the ropes in television news: Robert Redford glamorous," said Schen-
, insight mines the thematic vein
takes Michelle Pfeiffer from local weathergirl status to den. "A news director
—Julie Smith Yolles
respected network news stardom.
would never call the
make no mistake: Malkovich is
the one whose compelling perfor-
'm surprised no one thought of mance dominates the screen and
it before: John Malkovich as leaves the audience riveted to
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. With their seats.
Set in Victorian Scotland, the
a quiet, soft-spoken exterior
and a passionate, unbalanced film opens with a scene indicative
monster lurking within, the char- of the times. Mary Reilly, servant
acter begs for Malkovich. His por- to the respected but reclusive Dr.
trayals of a loony, would-be Jekyll, looks on with revulsion as
assassin in In the Line of Fire and a large eel is skinned and chopped
during dinner prepara-
an evil count in Dangerous
tions. The foreshadow-
Liaisons make Malkovich
ing is explicit: The
destined for the role.
audience is about to be
Fortunately, in Mary
Reilly, the most recent cinemat- taken on a psychological journey
ic retelling of the old mad-doctor with a myriad of sexual under-
legend, director Stephen Frears tones.
We are about to be let in on the
(Dangerous Liaisons) gives
Malkovich a nod as the title char- secret of Mr. Hyde.
Meanwhile, it is no accident
And, while the movie touts it- that Jekyll takes an interest in
self as the telling from Mary Reil- Mary. She is innocent, beautiful
ly's (Julia Roberts) point of view, and timid, an object of fascination
(Mary Reilly) is
trapped in a web
created by Dr.
Jekyll and Mr.
and adulation for the sexually re-
pressed doctor. When he finally
convinces Mary to tell him the
story of her childhood, Jekyll is
strangely intrigued by her abu-
As the movie progresses, Jekyll
gives Mary increasingly large
glimpses into his life, as well.
Eventually, he tells her about his
"friend" who is visiting: Mr. Ed-
Repressed, depressed and self-
hating Jekyll is a far cry from
Hyde, whom Mary encounters
with increasing frequency. Hyde
is more repre-
than the traditional monster, he
is brash, vivacious and quite in
love with himself and his sexu-
ality. Unfortunately, his fetish
for violence threatens his and the
doctor's reputations and, dare I
say, their composite life.
However, since this film is re-
ally about Mary, as the title
suggests, a short Freudian in-
terpretation of her experience is
in order. Mary is the innocent
girl who, through Hyde, meets
her worst fears and secret plea-
sures. But enough of psycho-
Let's talk about performances.
Julia Roberts starts out well as
the innocent Mary, but when
Mary's corruption begins,
Roberts fails to keep pace. To-
ward the end, she is much more
detached — and innocent — than
she should be. Malkovich, on the
other hand, is splendid. His wide
spectrum of emotions serves him
well in portraying a split-per-
sonality. And let's face it: The guy
can flat-out act.
Also, Glenn Close, in a cameo
role as Mrs. Farraday, a brothel
owner whose establishment
bears the brunt of Hyde's sexual
and violent tirades, turns in her
usual fine performance.
Mary Reilly's biggest flaw is
simply that it is the retelling of a
story that everybody already
knows. Although the film is well-
made, it fails to put a unique spin
on things. Except, of course, the
John Malkovich angle. Have I
mentioned that he is a good ac-
1 . 400.