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Afterlife

A journalist must re-evaluate his relationships when he discovers his mother is dying in "AfterLife," a downbeat slice of middle-class Scottish drama. Pic is enlivened by strong playing from Kevin McKidd and Lindsay Duncan, but weakened by an over-schematic script. Helming debut of Alison Peebles is better fitted to the tube than to theater auds.

An ambitious journalist must re-evaluate his relationships when he discovers his mother is dying in “AfterLife,” a moderately downbeat slice of middle-class Scottish drama. Pic is enlivened by strong playing from leads Kevin McKidd and Lindsay Duncan, but weakened in its second half by an over-schematic script. Feature-film helming debut of Scottish actress-producer Alison Peebles is better fitted to the tube than to theater auds.

Journalist Kenny Brogan (McKidd, so good in “16 Years of Alcohol”) hopes to kickstart a career Stateside by interviewing a doctor (James Laurenson) suspected of being in cahoots with a Swiss clinic called AfterLife that’s practicing euthanasia. But, when he visits his mom, May (Duncan), to help look after his sister, Roberta (Paula Sage), who suffers from Down’s Syndrome, he finds his career goals threatened by family duties — especially when May lets slip she has ovarian cancer. Combo of Duncan’s lack of sentimentality, McKidd’s energy and Sage’s perky obstreperousness lift the film above usual British miserabilism, until the plot becomes too contrived. Shirley Henderson is briefly effective as Kenny’s over-patient g.f. Transfer from DV is generally excellent, and Peebles’ direction clean and unaffected.

Afterlife

U.K.

  • Production: A Scottish TV, Grampian TV, Scottish Screen presentation of a Gabriel Films production. Produced by Catherine Aitken. Executive producers, Steve McIntyre, Agnes Wilkie. Directed by Alison Peebles. Screenplay, Andrea Gibb.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Grant Scott Cameron; editor, Colin Monie; music, Paddy Cunneen; production designer, Jacqueline Smith; costume designer, Rhona Russell. Reviewed at Edinburgh Film Festival (British Galas), Aug. 18, 2003. Running time: 104 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Lindsay Duncan, Kevin McKidd, Shirley Henderson, Paula Sage, James Laurenson, Fiona Bell, Julie Austin, Anthony Strachan, Maureen Carr, Stuart Davids, Isla Blair, Eddie Marsan, Emma D'Inverno.