'After Words' Showcases Marcia Gay Harden's Talent

Movie Review - Jackie K Cooper
"After Words" (Level 33 Entertainment)

Marcia Gay Harden can do no wrong. Any role she undertakes ends up being a special one just because of her talent, charm and charisma. In her latest film After Words, she portrays a single woman in her forties who is at the end of her rope. She has a plan to end her life but delays it until after a trip to Costa Rica. Watching Harden go from a beaten plain Jane to a woman on the cusp of a wonderful life makes for grand movie entertainment.

Jane (Harden) is a librarian in Los Angeles, going through the motions of her life but without any real enthusiasm about it. When her employment is terminated due to a downturn in the economy she takes her savings and splurges on a trip to Costa Rica. Suddenly Jane is a woman with a plan. She will go to a foreign land and while there she will end her sad, dull life.

Juan (Oscar Jaenada) is a man whose life does have purpose. He works to earn enough money to provide his daughter Anna (Jenna Ortega) with some of the good things of life. This particularly means an education at an American school in Costa Rica. He sees this as a way to guarantee her the best opportunities possible. It is expensive but Juan is willing to do what it takes to keep Anna there.

What Juan sometimes does is act as a tour guide. And sometimes his tour guide service provides the older ladies who hire him with something extra in the romance department. When Juan spies Jane he sees a perfect client. The rest of the movie focuses on the effect Juan has on Jane and Jane has on Juan.

Director Juan Feldman paces his story perfectly. The friendship between these two flawed human beings takes time to come to fruition. Juan is friendly and charming but it will take more than that to change Jane's plans to end it all. Plus there is always the possibility the time in Costa Rica will be the perfect note on which to end it all.

Harden's Jane is a character who sticks with you after the movie ends. She has many transitions and all are played with truth and believability. Jaenada's Juan is the perfect counterpoint to her depressing aura. He is so alive, and so eager to please that it would be a crime not to enjoy his world. You certainly are able to see what he sees in her and what she sees in him.

This movie is a romantic fantasy and it must be accepted as that to be enjoyed. You can quibble that someone of Jane's age must have some friends and/or relatives. You can also nitpick that protected hearts can not open up to adventure so quickly. But if you go with the flow and just accept the story as presented you will have a grand time with it.

The film is not rated.

After Words is similar to an old Katherine Hepburn film titled Summertime. In it she played a "spinster" on a European vacation who finds love. Hepburn made it all believable and Harden does too. So immerse yourself in the beauty of the Costa Rica setting and let your heart open up to a romantic fantasy.

I scored After Words a holiday 6 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper