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After the Silence (1995) – DVD Review


Written by: Vivienne Radkoff
Directed by: Fred Gerber
Starring: JoBeth Williams, Kellie Martin, S. Epatha Merkenson

Released by: MPI Video
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1.

My Advice: Run from it like someone is chasing you with a hot iron.

Laura (Martin) has a truly horrible life. Not only does she have an abusive father, she is deaf. Even worse, she has no knowledge of sign language or reading and writing. Even her escape from her father is wretched since she went through a third story window and onto the street instead of the door as most of us would do. While in the hospital, she meets Pam Willis (Williams), a social worker with a heart of gold and loads of gumption. She bonds with the sad little deaf girl and valiantly fights through her communications ignorance, a heartless bureaucracy, and the aforementioned asshole father.

After the Silence screen capture

What a load of melodramatic clichéd claptrap. Don’t get me wrong — abuse, especially of the disabled, is serious and morally reprehensible. But this movie is so overblown it’s hard to take seriously. For example, Pam Willis is not only a passionate advocate, but she was abused as well. The father is not only abusive; he’s also a drug dealer. The message is shoved so hard in your face, you can’t breathe. The movie also tries way too hard to be a modern retelling of The Miracle Worker. Annie Sullivan has blurred vision resulting from an eye disease; Pam Willis has bad reaction of loud noises from her abusive husband. They even have the scene where Helen… I mean Laura finally gets that the hand motions that Anne… I mean Pam makes actually refer to things and people. I wouldn’t be surprised if she said ‘wa wa’. Supposedly this movie was based on a true story. What I imagine is that the producers didn’t think the actual events were interesting enough, so they ‘sweetened’ the script. Unfortunately, it’s got so syrupy that whole maple forests were decimated. I know it’s only a made for TV movie, but a little effort would not have killed them.

The DVD is actually unique in my experience. For the first time, I have encountered a DVD with no extras. Now I’m not talking about how there’s no commentary or behind the scenes featurette. I mean there’s nothing. No trailers for other studio product, no subtitles, not even chapter navigation. It’s almost breathtaking in its stark minimalism. Honestly, if you’re into this sort of melodramatic garbage and have low standards, check it on Lifetime Movie Network. Otherwise, avoid it.

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