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The Aftermath – Movie Review

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The Aftermath – Movie Review

Rating: C (Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

While multiple motion pictures have been made about the events of World War II, there surprisingly aren’t nearly as many about what happened immediately after the war ended. The Aftermath has the potential to explore that period to show how other countries attempted to deal with Germany’s crimes. However, the film is primarily focused on a love triangle and struggles with juggling the different characters. Adapting a novel by Rhidian Brook, The Aftermath has assembled a solid cast and is a decently mounted production, but the melodrama proves an ill fit for the setting and we’re left with underwritten personalities.

There is intrigue in the plot threads early on, especially when Jason Clarke’s British Colonel Lewis Morgan is trying to figure out the best way to handle the post-war situation. Director James Kent appears to have done the research for the time period and there’s an intriguing conflict built with the colonel taking over a German family’s residence. There was some animosity among Germans after the war with the Allied Forces coming in and trying to decide what to do with them. There’s a bit of a hint with this, but not enough is explored. The colonel’s own inner humanity battling with doing his job properly is also briefly touched upon, but could have been more developed.

There is also curiousity in what route Keira Knightley’s Rachael Morgan will go down, with her initial unease at taking over this house. Despite the talents of Knightley and Alexander Skarsgard as the proprietor of the house, there is a lack of chemistry between them that makes their eventual affair unbelievable. Skarsgard’s daughter is also not quite as strongly defined as she should be. The story shows her disgust at these Brits on occasion and also tries a love story with a German boy still beholden to the Nazi ideal. There are again areas that could have been explored with greater depth, but they’re not quite there.

The most surprising part of The Aftermath is how little risk it takes, with the third act feeling a little too neatly wrapped up. Where Kent does succeed is on the production front. Director of photography Franz Lustig does a lavish job of filming this almost abandoned house and the crumbling streets of Hamburg. One sequence in a snowy forest is especially lavishly shot and production designer Sonja Klaus also does well in recreating the time period. As mentioned before, Knightley and Skarsgard deliver solid work and Jason Clarke also turns in a good performance. Ultimately, though, the characters just aren’t written well enough to be invested in.

The Aftermath is a bit of a disappointing slog as, despite the setting and cast, the story never becomes compelling. We go from scene to scene with little urgency and the film misses an opportunity to shed more light on what Germany underwent after their surrender, especially with many of the citizens still in favour of the Nazi regime. Instead, the film is more interested in being a soap opera with the typical love triangle. There doesn’t feel like there’s much conflict, even when this scandalous affair starts. The affair itself even comes across as more like an excuse for steamy love making scenes. One isn’t asking for a history lesson from The Aftermath, but a more exciting and intriguing story would help.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison