Reviewed by: Mehran Mehrabanpour
Starring: Julie Walters, Tom Wilkinson, Joanne Whalley, John Hannah, Victoria Hamilton, Patricia Hodge | Directed by: Lewis Gilbert | Produced by: Eoin O'Callaghan | Written by: Shelagh Stephenson
Films like “Before You Go” should never even get made. It highlights the worst of an already failing UK film industry, and with more like this we may as well say goodbye to any hope of recovery. It is a shame that acclaimed director Lewis Gilbert (“Alfie”, “Educating Rita”, “Shirley Valentine” and three “Bond” films) didn’t pass on this hopelessly poor script to someone else.
Based on Shelagh Stephensons play “The Memory of Water,” the film is a blend of comedy, sob story and supernatural melodrama. Three sisters return to the family home on the Isle of Man to bury their mother. The youngest, Catherine (Hamilton), is a fully fledged hippy chick hypochondriac who craves attention incessantly. Middle sister, Mary (Whalley), has ghostly visitations from the late mother (Hodge) who wants to settle old scores. The eldest, Teresa (Walters), is a workaholic who tries to control and manipulate the others. They all have a common problem to complain about which no chick flick would be complete without: lazy, good for nothing MEN!
With such a talented cast, it takes a particular type of directorial skill to make none of the characters likeable or engaging. Lacking empathy, we don’t particularly care about Catherine getting dumped by her boyfriend, or Mary being savagely lied to by her married lover. Not only does the theatrical overacting add to the depression of knowing your time is being wasted, we have in addition a clumsy script and even clumsier delivery.
Like most British films, it could have been so much better. Instead we have an incompetent, rushed affair and a sad reflection on the current state of the UK film industry.