Before You Know It Review – Perfect, Authentic, Genuine, Captivating

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Before You Know It, from 1091 Media and El Dorado Pictures, brings to the screen the story of family, secrets, lies, and life in Manhattan, the deals we make, the lives we live, hopes, dreams, life and loves.

Directed and co-written by Hannah Pearl Utt, Before You Know It stars Mandy Patinkin, Judith Light, Alec Baldwin, Hannah Pearl Utt, Mike Colter, Oona Yaffe, Arica Himmel, Tim Daly, Sam Daley, Peter Jacobson, Jenn Lyon and co-writer Jen Tullock.


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Before You Know It begins in Manhattan, the cacophony of the city that never sleeps is the intro soundtrack. Panning we see two women walking, laughing, soon, they arrive at the entrance to a neighborhood theater.

About to call it a night, the two obviously enamored with each other try the usual invitations to extend the evening. Unfortunately, Rachel, played by Hannah Pearl Utt, decides to call it and the evening was over.

Making her way into the brownstone that sits above the theater we find the family sister, Jackie, played by Jen Tullock, Dad/Mel, played by Mandy Patinkin, and Jackie's daughter Dodge, played by Oona Yaffe, in various states of creatives eccentricities with the playwright Mel, entertaining the Dodge with stories of Piracy, and Jackie the creative mess hiding the fact that yes, the game is out but Dad is more entertaining.

Suddenly the feel-good moment she left at the doorstep is lost with the usual day of dishes, clean up, laundry to do before she even thinks about sleep.

Jackie and Rachel live with their Dad in the same brownstone they've lived in all their lives in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. Their Mom, who they can barely remember died. A family of creatives, he is in the middle of finishing a play that has rewrites due soon, Jackie a budding actress, and Rachel, a stage manager/producer keep the arts alive in their little neighborhood.


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With casting, and rewrites and an unexpected Fellow award, the household is abuzz with Mel's play. After a meet and greet, the Fellows, each a sampling of Manhattan's uniqueness and growing diversity, are giving the audience just a sample of their creative endeavors.

Mel, the most senior Fellow, offers a shock sample and Rachel who has assumed the role of rock in the midst of a creative whirlwind, is stunned at the cavalier disregard. The two argue and Rachel finally speaks her mind, a bit more harshly then she had imagined, but she'll apologize in the morning and at least it will have been said.

Walking down the stairs, we see Mel's shadow on the wall, the dejection more difficult then expected. He sits and drops his head on Jackie's shoulder. Of course, creative to creative she pats him on the back, it will be alright, she's overreacting, you know how she is, when suddenly she realizes, he isn't breathing.

The next scene shows the signage outside the theater "In Memorial." The girls are overwhelmed with the business of dying as well as coping with their own feelings, and as always, the unexpected revelations wills can bring about.


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Soon they are at the attorney who explains the will hasn't been updated in a long time. Jackie has been named executor. Expecting to inherit the brownstone and theater they find it was always co-owned by Mel and a women Sherrell, played by Judith Light, an actress, a soap star, who as the attorney and Jackie realize in one instant looks a lot like Rachel.

It at this point the Before You Know It shifts as hidden secrets, motivations, reasons, and of course rationalizations are met with a dam burst of emotions. Subtlety, as we see is not a strong suit the girls possess as they are met with the obstacle of getting past security as they believe this famous soap star is their mother.

What follows is the pendulum swing of emotions that one would expect. The performances of Judith Light, Hannah Peral Utt and Jen Tullock are accentuated by a strong supporting cast played by Alec Baldwin, Peter, a child's therapist, his wife, Susan, played by Claws, Jenn Lyon. Accountant Charles, played by Mike Colter, his daughter, Olivia, played by Arica Himmel. Daytime drama producer, Michael, played by Peter Jacobson, and Soap Star Ronnie, played by Tim Daly.


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Before You Know It, is a feel-good film. I was captivated from the beginning. Exceptional performances that appear performed without restraint, a freedom, and possibly written as over the top. Life, even when we want it to pause for just one moment, moves on. The darkness is followed by the dawn, and for our girls who are faced with the deep loss, a silver lining.

Authenticate, genuine performances, with the backdrop of Manhattan mixed with everyday life, knowing oneself, the business of dying, the peculiarity of creative spirits, hidden deals, Before You Know It is perfect. See it. At Theaters and On Demand.