After Tiller (PG-13)

Walter M. Hern M.D. listens to one of his patients in the abortion documentary 'After Tiller.'
Walter M. Hern M.D. listens to one of his patients in the abortion documentary 'After Tiller.'

Movie Info

Rating: * * * 

With: LeRoy Carhart, Warren Hern, Susan Robinson, Shelley Sella.

Producers/directors: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson.

Screenwriters: Greg O’Toole, Martha Shane, Lana Wilson.

An Oscilloscope Laboratories release. Running time: 85 minutes. Vulgar language, graphic descriptions of abortion. In Miami-Dade only: Coral Gables Art Cinema.

In May 2009, Dr. George Richard Tiller was killed by a bullet to the head while attending Sunday morning mass in Wichita. He was 67. There had been previous assassination attempts, including the firebombing of his medical clinic in 1986 and another shooting in 1993, which he survived. Why was Tiller a target? Because he was one of the few doctors in the country who performed late-term (or third trimester) abortions, a controversial procedure that even the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 left up to individual states to legalize or ban (today, only nine states offer the service).

After Tiller, a documentary about four doctors who worked with Tiller and today carry on his practice, makes no attempt at a fair and balanced argument. Instead, directors Martha Shane and Lana Wilson use the film to get past the disgust and outrage many people might instinctively feel about the thought of terminating a 25-week-old unborn child and explore the reasons why the procedure is important. The movie takes a calm and intellectual approach to an inflammatory subject, elevating what could have easily come off as propaganda into a reasoned and thoughtful work of journalism.

The filmmakers were granted unlimited access to Tiller’s disciples: The eloquent Dr. Warren Hern, who has been performing abortions in Boulder since the 1970s; Drs. Susan Robinson and Shelley Sella, who live in California but take turns commuting to their clinic in Albuquerque; and Dr. LeRoy Carhart, who is forced to relocate his Nebraska practice after the state passes a law restricting late-term abortions.

Through interviews with their patients (the women’s faces are never shown), we learn exactly what the procedure entails: The child must be euthanized inside the womb, then delivered via labor stillborn, in order to protect the patient’s reproductive organs. We are also shown interviews in which the doctors decide whether to carry out the procedure. One woman, whose latest MRI revealed her son is terminally ill and will die within 24 hours of birth, wants to spare the baby unnecessary pain and duress. Another woman, a single mother who already has one child and isn’t sure she can support another, has a harder time getting the medical consent.

Unlike Tony Kaye’s epic 2006 documentary Lake of Fire, which explored the abortion debate from both sides of the fence, After Tiller is careful not to offend or aggravate. This is a measured, riveting picture about a tiny fraction (less than one percent) of all the abortions in the U.S. annually, told from the points of view of the doctors who perform them and the women who must deal with the consequences, often with heavy, broken hearts.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">What’s the secret?</span> Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites are a brother and sister trying to solve the mystery of a demonic mirror in ‘Oculus.’

    Oculus (R)

    Mirrors have been as much of a fixture in horror movies as knives and cats that suddenly jump from the shadows. But they’re best in cameos, as in the ending of Dressed to Kill or the bathroom scene in The Shining. Oculus revolves entirely around an ornate mirror that is, what, a gateway to hell? A summoning force for evil spirits? A really ugly piece of furniture from a medieval Pottery Barn?

Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman square off in a scene from ‘The Raid 2.’

    The Raid 2 (R)

    Every time you think The Raid 2 can’t possibly top itself, writer-director Gareth Evans goes “Oh, yeah? Watch this.” Most of 2011’s The Raid: Redemption took place inside a tenement raided by a SWAT team to apprehend a mobster and his squad of killers holed up inside. Practically no one survived the movie — the violence was astonishing — but the contained setting and the idea of having events grow hairier for the good guys the higher they went in the building gave the tight 101-minute movie a sense of compressed, relentless action. Now comes The Raid 2 (known as The Raid 2: Bernadal in its native Indonesia), which is far more expansive and complicated, and runs almost 2 ½ hours. Miraculously, the new picture makes the old one feel like Evans was just warming up.

A sexual addict (Charlotte Gainsbourg) visits a therapist (Jamie Bell) with unorthodox methods to try to help get over her compulsion in ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2’

    NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. 2 (unrated)

    Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 (unrated)

    Things get really kinky in Nymphomaniac Vol. 2, the second chapter in director Lars von Trier’ epic-length saga about a woman who can’t get enough. If you saw Vol. 1, which ended with our perpetually horny heroine Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) losing all feeling in her sexual organs, you might be wondering, “How could this movie outdo the first one?” To quote the great Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category