Aftermath: A Long Way Home (2003)
Walking on Glass
I have watched quite a few movies which deal with the disturbing subject of child abuse but "Aftermath: A Long Way Home" is the first which attempts to deal with the subject of moving on, from a family trying to get back together following abuse. Now I applaud all those involved for tackling such a powerful subject, one which has many different angles from betrayal to feelings of guilt and frustration. But at the same time I have to say that "Aftermath: A Long Way Home" unfortunately tackles the subject in a typically afternoon TV movie sort of way which means the grit is seriously reduced in favour of some soap opera style drama and styling which frankly is wrong for such an emotive subject.
Having separated when she caught her husband Jack (Robert Urich - Final Run) abusing their daughter Tess (Shawna Waldron), Carol (Meredith Baxter - A Christmas Visitor) wants her husband home and her family back together as they all have had counselling. But when Jack returns things are not easy for any of them from Jack constantly feeling like he has to jump through hoops to Carol struggling to trust him as well as their young son who sees his dad as the cause of all troubles.
So in a way "Aftermath: A Long Way Home" doesn't have a storyline but is more an attempt to highlight the numerous issues of a family trying to move on as a unit after the father was caught abusing his daughter. Oh there is some narrative in there about Jack having been abused as a child and then Carol remembering her own childhood but the real focus is on the numerous issues which can confront a family trying to move on. Some of these include Jack knowing that when his son falls asleep in bed next to him he knows what Carol will think, there is Carol not feeling like she can leave Jack alone with the kids whilst also thinking that their daughter Tess is dressing provocatively when her bath robe isn't closed. In fairness if you strip away the style it makes a lot of good points on the complexities of the situation.
But as mentioned "Aftermath: A Long Way Home" is a very typical TV movie from the style through to the acting and for such a gritty subject it is all to soap opera ish rather than gritty. Basically whilst it makes many good points the emotion, the drama, the anger and so on never feels real. It's not just that the central actors Robert Ulrich and Meredith Baxter who deliver soft performances as it is the entire cast who never ring completely true. And the styling is predominantly typical with only the occasional scene of an actor in therapy which breaks the norm with an almost artsy black background.
What this all boils down to is that "Aftermath: A Long Way Home" is a brave movie which highlights a lot of real issues but unfortunately the approach to the movie is too typically TV movie and is wrong for such a gritty subject.
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