Film Review: BEFORE YOU KNOW IT (USA 2019) ***

Before You Know It Poster

A pair of sisters find out that the mother they thought was dead is alive and starring on a soap opera.


Hannah Pearl Utt

Warning that BEFORE YOU KNOW it is almost totally a feminist movie.  When the film opens, two women are seen making small talk as they cross streets before one of them, the protagonist, Rachel Gurner (Hannah Pearl Utt) stops outside her place of residence, an apartment above a theatre.  The two women share an intimate kiss.  Rachel returns home where the audience sees she lives with her sister Jackie (Jen Tullock) and niece, Dodge (Oona Yaffe).  Jackie is complete opposite from rachel, who is the more stable one.  The only male in the picture is the father Mel (Mandy Patinkin) who is comically passed on so that the women’s world is complete.  As if there are not enough females in the story, the sisters learn that their supposed deceased mother is alive.  They seek to find her.  BEFORE YOU KNOW IT strangely enough has got no director credits just writing credits for both actresses Tullock and Pearl Utt.

Even the dialogue emphasizes ‘women’.  Example is the only line of dialogue uttered by the mother: “I have a very low tolerance for controlling men.  I will run screaming the other way.” The daughter’s response. “I feel exactly the very same way.”  There are only controlling women in this movie.

The dialogue is very New York City’s as evident from the ladies’ small talk at the film’s start.  The target audience for the film is thus quite narrow.  Audiences not in theatre or live in the city would find it difficult to relate and connect with the characters.

The film picks up a little when the sisters finally find and meet their long-lost mother who is a thriving soap-opera star.  She is quite the personality. But no one can beat Jackie who is hilariously running around with big bunting boobies.

Director Utt elicits family dysfunction with ease.  The trouble is that she does not know what to do with it.  Mother and Jackie are both equally weird while Rachel is the more rational one.  Utt’s film is extremely talky so expect to be listening to dialogue from start to finish, more than what normal people articulate to each other.

It is difficult to sympathize with the three women when they all behave as if the each suffer from PTSD.  It one thing in one instant and another the next.

As they say in moviemaking, make films about subjects one is familiar with.  Director Utt looks extremely comfortable as her film sails merrily towards its ending.  Trouble is that nothing much really happens not to mention the co-out happy ending that has nothing much to do with the street hand except to bookend the activities.  If only one could say the film ends BEFORE YOU CAN KNOW IT.

BEFORE YOU KNOW IT caters to a select target audience.  So as they say, one man’s or woman’s meat os another woman’s poison.  Myself, I am tolerant with these kind of films, though I find the exercise  boring and un-affecting.  So the rating of 3 stars would apply for the film’s target audience – mostly the old term yuppie female.



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