Alright, first and foremost, I would like to clear off the air. I’m pretty sure that the majority of you would give The Aftermath a pass as soon as it’s trailer that you’re watching fades to black. Well, I totally get it, The Aftermath is such a tiny weeny cup of tea, that it’s hard to relate with the majority of cinema-goers.
Sure, my intention is not to convince movie-goers to watch films beyond what’s acceptable to them. My point is to merely assist you guys in deciding whether or not to drop your buck on a particular movie. That said, for those who have glanced through the trailer of The Aftermath but still feels the film to be somewhat tempting, but your not particularly sure, well, you have come to the right place.
True enough, whenever I have the chance, I do playback the trailer of the film which I intend to watch, and ultimately, put up to review, before I actually snap up the ticket. It’s quite similar to giving myself a comprehensive understanding of a certain product before actually purchasing it. Habits of a savvy shopper rarely go away, isn’t it? Especially in the current era where information is just a click away.
Anyway, what was my initial reaction to The Aftermath’s trailer? Right off the bat, I began to set my expectation right, that The Aftermath will not have any shortage of drama. Keira Knightley, Jason Clarke, and Alexander Skarsgård’s faces flashed by, and I was assured that I should expect hard-hitting performances by that talented group.
Then, there were explosions, and gunfights, and quick flashes of physical conflict. For those, I couldn’t be sure. Studios have a stubborn habit of shoving in most or all of their ‘high-in-action’, interesting scenes into the trailers to make them look fast-paced and suspenseful. After being tricked a couple of times, I’m not buying into them anymore. After all, I do not want to assume that I’m going into a concert, but end up in an art museum instead. If I tell myself that I am going to an art museum at the first place, it gives me more leeway to appreciate the exhibits.
Was my instinct correct? I can say that majority of my guesses were quite accurate. The Aftermath kicks off following Knightley’s character, Rachel Morgan, touching down on the soil of Germany, to be reunited with her husband, Lewis (Clarke). Lewis is a British colonel deployed in Hamburg, tasked with the gigantic responsibility of rebuilding the city after a massive bombing by The Allied Forces. The introduction of The Aftermath does look strangely similar to the resolve of war movies; couples reunited, with majority of people who seems to be moving on after a shocking tragedy.
However, things go for a twist when the Morgans end up staying in a luxurious mansion, seized, quite unwillingly, from a German architect, Stefan Lubert (Skarsgård). The first act of The Aftermath is never short of awkward moments as well as mysteries surrounding the Morgans’ past. Lubert’s deepest intention are still difficult to be established. It’s a tug of war and dynamic interaction between those two opposing sides of the World War II camp; the triumphant and the defeated. While the unfolding events in the first act don’t suggest absolute chaos, it is quite impossible for the audience to draw a decisive line to separate the antagonists from the protagonists. Each major character has their own dark sides, and that’s the fact that keep the first act interesting.
As the story moves on, mystery gradually gives way to clarity, and the story progression focuses on the the relationship development between the main characters. Let’s just face it, even if I do not mention about it here, you would have probably known that the story progression will reach a point where Rachel “displays” strong affection towards Stefan, thanks to the widespread trailer. And yet, that particular scene’s arrival doesn’t come as to being thrown at to your face. There are certain sparks, which have ignited here and there, before the plot ultimately steers to that event, thus the transtion feels genuine and faithful. All that in such an unfaithful centered page of the story. Such irony.
With all that seduction and deception which takes place mid-way through the film, it’s only natural for any member of the audience, including myself to go through a huge amount of anxiety on the impending, inevitable conflict that will arise from the complex relationship. There’s a virtual time-bomb ticking beyond that silver screen that can go off at any moment, and it’s just a matter of time before the audience get to know how massive the magnitude of blast it could be.
Except, the virtual time bomb goes off in a faint crackle. I am by no means exaggerating, and the final resolve is by no means a mistake or a flop either. It may feel a tad underwhelming at first, but as the story comes to an appropriate close, it comes as a pleasant revelation that the third act is rather sensibly written, although in a divisive way. It becomes apparently clear that the closure is the best possible resolve, after taking into consideration every single event that happened along the plot. Of course, definitely not an explosion-packed, gunfire-heavy type of resolve it is, whether the trailer made you to believe that or not. Whether you can come to good terms with The Aftermath after the ending depends on how much relevance you can find within the emotional and grief charged ending.
All in all, The Aftermath came in within my expectation, save for a few pleasant surprises. For a start, the more I looked at Rachel, the more I grew to realize that Keira Knightley is a walking 40’s high-fashion wardrobe in the film. It’s pretty prominent that the studio put in more effort to make Knightley look stunning within the frames of The Aftermath, and it sure works.
The next one has to do with the pace of the story, which is surprisingly far from being outright bland. Things don’t happen that rapidly in The Aftermath, but still, there were no scenes which I had felt like they have existed just to patch up holes in the timeline. Every scene feels like little tiny puzzle pieces that link together to strengthen the bigger plot points.
Of course, you are bound to find scenes where there’s nothing much going on at that very moment, especially emotionally weighted ones. If you zoom into those scenes alone, they might be perceived as stale even, because there’s no aid from fancy backdrops or musical scores. It draws your attention to the performance of the casts alone. Whether you find it captivating or otherwise, is another argument altogether.
I just wish that there is a little more extended moments after the definitive final resolve. Sure, for me, the ending scene did what it was supposed to do, in a rather graceful manner. And yet, I felt that with just a minor touch afterwards, the closure can be miles better and be effortlessly sealed and replayed in the minds of the spectators, especially overall, the film has such a degree of emotionally-stirring script.
Addict Verdict, AV:
The Aftermath is certainly a divisive piece of art. And by calling it an art, I have by no means acknowledged that it will be well appreciated by just about anyone. It tells you a deep-reaching story of the unseen consequences of war, and how it keeps on haunting even those who are fortunate to live on after that. If that resonates well with you, you might find joy and beauty within this otherwise bitter and poignant odyssey.–The Film Addict
*This review was originally published on The Film Addict