In the last several years, the number one killer of Americans between 18 and 45 came from fentanyl overdoses (more than COVID-19). Each death leaves a wake of grief behind it. Co-writer-director Sarah T. Schwab’s feature film, Life After You, tells the story of one family struck by the tragedy of fentanyl.
The family drama stars Florencia Lozano and Gary Perez as Linda and Tito, a couple who have built a solid suburban life for their family of three children. Their youngest son, Danny (Jake Ryan Lozano), is troubled, but what teenager isn’t. In the blink of an eye, Linda and Tito’s quiet life is turned upside down when they find Danny dead from an overdose of heroin laced with fentanyl.
Danny’s death affects the married couple in different ways. Linda withdraws not only from life but also from her family, finding solace in bed, staring at the television. On the other hand, Tito wants to know what happened and confronts everyone involved in Danny’s death.
“…Linda and Tito’s quiet life is turned upside down when they find Danny dead from an overdose…”
Life After You explores the feelings and emotions of the thousands of families struck by the tragedy of the opioid crisis each year. While grief is a part of life and being human, Schwab, and co-writer Florencia Lozano, explore the senseless nature of fentanyl deaths. The idea is that these deaths are preventable, so who’s ultimately to blame? Could Linda and Tito have been better parents and done something differently? What about the influence of Danny’s friends? What about those parents? And as Linda obsesses about Danny’s death, what about her other children? Is there hope after heartbreak?
The film is inspired by Linda Lajterman’s book, Life After You: What Your Death From Drugs Leaves Behind. The filmmakers do precisely what the book sought to accomplish by bringing awareness to the devastation of opioids and letting families struck by tragedy know that they aren’t alone.
Let’s talk about star Florencia Lozano. She not only carries the lead acting duties as Linda but co-wrote the screenplay with Schwab. Her performance is incredible. It’s measured, and the actor never deteriorates into an overblown “Oscar-winning” moment. Instead, Lozano keeps her performance grounded, walking us through the stages of grief to the point of using her character’s tragedy to help others. I also appreciate the physical transformation she goes through along the way.
I don’t think it’s any secret that Life After You is a message film. There’s nothing wrong with that. Given the pervasiveness of the opioid crisis, every one of us is not that far removed from disaster. So it serves as a warning of what could happen to any of us and as a resource for those we know who could use a little hope when hope is hard to find.
For more information, visit the Life After You official website.
"…Lozano keeps her performance grounded, walking us through the stages of grief..."