While on a walk via a day pass from his rehab facility, Ray (Thomas Romero) runs into Arora (Tedra Rogers). Arora is unique in a number of ways, including the fact that she claims to be able to predict the future, in one way or another. As the strangers get to talking and begin learning more about one another, the two people find they might have a lot to offer each other. Here & After is the emotional journey that Ray and Arora embark on to discover one another and themselves.
There is a darkness that lives within both Ray and Arora that is present throughout. While their internal struggles are clear thanks to the performances, the complete absence of color is what drives the idea home. This permits viewers to connect with these characters on a deeper than expected level. Writer-director Shaun Crawford assembles the production in a fashion that makes it seem the black-and-white cinematography is a narrative device, not just a stylistic choice. I was perpetually enthralled and fully enveloped in the unique story of Arora and Ray as a result.
Here & After is existential in so many ways, touching upon the ideas of love, depression, addiction, and perseverance (among others), forcing viewers to think deeply about how these ideas relate to their lives. It is emotionally drawing, tugging at every heartstring, begging viewers to cry. After the film is over, viewers will be compelled to look inward and explore themselves. As the chemistry between the two individuals begins to grow, the audience is sucked into the film, becoming part of their story and understanding the difficulties they face.
“While on a walk via a day pass from his rehab facility, Ray runs into Arora.”
Crawford engages his audience with a false start storytelling structure, which can be frustrating because it intentionally feeds incorrect information. As Ray prepares to journey out of his rehabilitation facility in the opening moments, everyone thinks they know exactly how the story will play out. But I’m here to tell you that it’s imperative that you expect the unexpected. The narrative travels down a winding road full of uncomfortable bumps and surprising stops, all leading to a conclusion no one could have anticipated. Even with the numerous hints, viewers can’t be sure how everything will play out. This mystery, paired with the ever-growing bond between the characters and actors, will enthrall audiences from beginning to end.
I’ll be honest, the first few minutes of Here & After felt as if the story would eventually peter out and fall into a cookie-cutter idea of love. But the cast and crew shake things up as the plot continues, bringing to life a genuinely alluring spectacle. As events begin to unfold, I found myself playing and replaying potential scenarios in my head, hoping that the more generous ones came true.
While I can’t say how the film officially plays out (without spoiling anything), I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with the denouement. But I will state that I’m impressed by how much is accomplished with what is clearly a limited budget and by the level of expertise that everyone brought to the table. I’m genuinely appreciative of the fact that Here & After is available for the world to see.
"…emotionally drawing, tugging at every heartstring, begging viewers to cry."