After (2006)
The tragic death of 13-year-old Maria Fareri inspires her family to build a children’s hospital in her name.
80 min
Horror, Thriller
Daniel Caltagirone, Flora Montgomery, Nicholas Aaron
Tony Fabian
Carroll Cartwright
United States
The story begins with Maria, age 13, telling us about her life through V.O. monologues. She presents life as normal and good, even though there is some evidence to doubt her young-eyed claims. Maria’s a bit of a perfectionist, aspires to be an actress, and is considered spoiled by her three step-siblings. Steph, Julie, and Michael are triplets. Their mother, Brenda was married to another man when she had them. But that marriage apparently ended very soon after. She married John after years of attempting to care for her triplets on her own, and they had Maria together. Brenda openly treats her as a treasure to be protected above all else. But, when we first meet Maria, she’s being taken to the emergency room. The E.R. is very busy and Maria sits on a gurney waiting. Maria is now trying to sleep in her hospital room as her parents are having an equally hard time cramped up in the hallway outside. For some strange reason, Maria seems to be hallucinating or something. Maria’s V.O. about her home life continues throughout this ordeal in the E.R. Her brothers and sisters have all moved away to college, which gives Brenda and John all the more time to focus on Maria. Brenda is an interior decorator while John is a big-time contractor; they work in the same office. His success and money allow them to live in Greenwich, Ct, one of the wealthiest towns in America. A couple of scenes show Maria writing in a journal, which is where the V.O. monologues have been coming from. Along with the voice-overs, various flashbacks show examples of what Maria talks about in her journals. In one scene described by Maria in her journal, she notices her mother’s wedding ring is missing one of its diamonds. Brenda asks Maria not tell John, worried that he’ll get upset. Later, Maria happens to step on it with her foot, but doesn’t say anything to her father who is standing nearby. As she leaves, John calmly says “I think your mom’s been looking for that.” Maria begins to mention a pain in her arm and complains of headaches in her journal. One night watching TV with her mom, Maria begins to spasm. The script shifts back to present day at the hospital where Maria has gotten worse. She’s now in a coma. The doctors don’t have any definitive answers yet. They suspect possibly rabies. But, until it’s confirmed, they warn Brenda and John not to speak of it as it could raise an alarm. The doctors come back saying inconclusive. But then minutes later, an unscrupulous reporter is questioning Brenda about rabies. Soon thereafter news vans pull up everywhere. The siblings arrive at the hospital to be at their sister’s side. The doctors finally get confirmation. It is rabies, and there is no cure. The doctors are ready to terminate life support whenever the family is ready to accept it. Maria, “…my number one thing I hate most is good-byes. I’ll do anything to avoid them…we’re all going to see each other again anyway.” Maria dies days later. The family is home again. News vans sit outside. They all agree, as a family, not to say a word. Michael and Julie return to college. Steph drops out and stays home. Every member of the family moves around like they’re zombies. Brenda calls Julie and Michael saying they should think about Christmas. No presents; they all decide to just be together in a non-Christmasy place. They go to Cancun. The vacation is over as fast as it begins, and it doesn’t really help. As each member of the family vainly tries to cope in their own way, John takes his car up to a vantage point where he can see the hospital where Maria died. It’s unclear what he’s thinking beyond the weight of the loss he is experiencing. After spending many days at this vigil of sorts, John’s emotions boil over. He charges toward the hospital in his as if he’s planning to ram through it. But he stops short and just stares into the place. Staring at the bane of his existence, John watches as the doctors who tended to Maria are just leaving to go home. John, “I’m going to build you a hospital. A children’s hospital. Right next to yours.” John has essentially stopped talking to anyone while he tries to get his passion project off the ground. John meets with the board to discuss his idea. The script describes for us some of the dark secrets behind hospital politics. Those in position to make, or influence, decisions are objecting because pediatric medicine isn’t a big money maker and the private hospitals in the area don’t want to have their business “stolen”. John is undeterred by all this. But, the family feels like they may be losing him. John and his assistant, whom he hired specifically for this job, meet with a fundraising consultant in John’s home. They are told that this, the wealthiest community in the nation, is unwilling to donate money for a hospital. Brenda comes home just as the meeting is ending after spending a few days with Julie and Michael at their apartment near Boston University where they are attending. Brenda’s frustration with John distancing himself from the family boils over. “I can’t go on being strong for you. I can’t do it anymore…” John goes to visit Maria’s gravesite. Returning home, John goes into Maria’s room for the first time since her death. Maria’s journal is opened for the first time by someone other than her. Maria’s voice is heard in John’s head as he reads. John reads her words about the fishing trips together, Maria’s concerns over her parents’ relationship, and her greatest wish of all: “…the health and well being of all the children in the world.” He continues sitting on her bed and reading until morning. It takes his deceased daughter to bring John back to his wife and family. Brenda and John are now a team working on fundraising for their hospital project. John and Brenda walk hand-in-hand out the door of a prospective donor, having given a passionate speech about Maria’s wants and dreams and determination. Brenda has since put the diamond back on her ring. Julie and Michael come down for a weekend visit. The progress of coming to terms with the loss and making peace within the family is completely shattered when Michael has some harsh words to say to his parents. It’s apparent he’s been carrying these words with him for some time. Julie and Michael depart with the pain of these words still resonating. But, this outburst of anger doesn’t compare to the ordeal Steph has been going through. Ever since she came back from college, Steph has been unable to cope with, not only the loss, but the constant feeling of pain and depression she sees around her. Steph decides early on to move away and live with a guy she met who lives out in Seattle. But during the journey out there, Steph stops along the way and begins to sort of drift as she tries to come to terms with everything. She deteriorates in appearance, growing very thin as she travels by train from place to place sort of wandering in her misery. Meanwhile, Brenda and John work on the hospital with new vigor as their bond begins to re-seal itself. By invitation, Julie and Michael return home to find a huge gathering of very important people there looking to help build this hospital. Maria’s best friend Amy is there, now 17. Amy meets with Julie and Michael. Unbelievably, Steph comes in. With only a look of longing from her parents, Steph goes up to Michael’s room where he, Julie and Amy are still bonding. The reunion is warm and touching, in a teenager’s sort of way. They sit around smoking…because Maria and Amy did it once. Their happy memories are temporarily suspended when John and Brenda show up asking what’s going on. Minutes later, they’ve joined the party, living like teenagers again themselves. John and Michael still aren’t talking. But as the side party ends and they decide to head back downstairs to their hosting duties, John offers a step towards peace. Michael accepts. Months later, John gets a call early in the morning. The deal fell apart in the legislature last night. John, without a second thought, puts his clothes on and heads out the door with Brenda in tow. He barges into the office of Nick Spano, the man who has been fronting the cause in the New York State legislature. But, John’s fears and anger are put to bed immediately. Nick Spano worked all through the night and got the measure passed. The script closes as we see the completed interior of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital inside Pediatrics Hall of Westchester Medical Center (in New York). We ride with a girl the same age Maria was when she died. Years ago, this same girl was Maria’s roommate. But now, instead of the cold, crowded hospital they had to endure, the girl is whisked through a tunnel into a wide open, beautifully lit area that feels as much like home as possible. The gurney she is on is purposely-made big enough so her mother can ride with her on it and hold her. Julie, Michael and Steph are there watching young ‘painters’ in the arts and crafts room. What started as whimsical drawings between John and Brenda has turned into reality. The scene pulls way out to reveal the entire place to be designed almost like something from a children’s fable. Steph hits the mark with a simple comment. Julie remarks that everyone is saying John and Brenda are heroes, “turning a tragedy into something to save other people.” Steph, “…they’ve got it all wrong. You saved us.”...more