With a culture-defining catchphrase like “pura vida” and a landscape filled with lush green everything, Costa Rica seems like an odd getaway for someone seeking to end their life. But maybe it was precisely that symbolic value that attracted screenwriter Joel Silverman to the idea. Known primarily as a scribe of low-budget, direct-to-video fare, it seems Silverman had some unfinished business after his 2001 “titillating teen comedy” Costa Rican Summer didn’t quite take off.
This latest endeavor, After Words, follows a single middle-aged librarian named Jane who falls into a deep depression after being laid off from her beloved job. With nothing left to live for, Jane decides to take one last glorious trip to Costa Rica before ending it all. Once there, her various attempts to pull the plug are continually frustrated, and she falls in with a well-meaning tour guide played by Óscar Jaenada (Cantinflas) who offers to show her the country. As we can usually expect from this type movie, Jane eventually relaxes her hair and becomes magically beautiful as she begins to rediscover the meaning in her life.
Directed by Uruguayan-born Juan Feldman, After Words seems like a perfectly well-executed commercial heart warmer, with polished visuals that effectively capture Costa Rica’s natural beauty. The film’s true strength seems to be in a strongly-characterized performance by the Emmy-winning Marcia Gay Harden (Miller’s Crossing, Mystic River), who gives a convincing turn as a socially maladjusted bookworm in the form of Jane.
After an August theatrical premiere, After Words is now available across digital platforms, including iTunes and Amazon Prime.