A dysfunctional family that can give the Friedmans a run for their money rests at the center of “And Thereafter.” Achieving a remarkably intimate dialogue with septuagenarian Young-Ja Wike, Korean-born documaker Hosup Lee peels back the facade of a suburban New Jersey family, uncovering a harrowing portrait of the American dream turned into an American nightmare. TV-friendly running time notwithstanding, powerful pic should land in many fest lineups.
Having lost one family to the horrors of the Korean War, Wike married a GI and moved to the U.S. in search of a better life. Five decades later, Wike’s marriage has decayed, her two grown sons (one collects pornography and GI Joe dolls; the other is a convicted drug dealer) still live at home and her daughter blames Wike for the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her own father. With her wearied face and broken English, Wike recounts these and other daily traumas for Lee’s camera. Her words are intercut with lyrical passages showing Wike at work in the backyard pepper garden that is an oasis of calm in her nexus of despair.