A fine drama with outstanding acting about, what else but love.
Love After Love
Director: Russell Harbaugh
Screenplay: Harlbaugh (The Mend), Eric Mendelsohn (3 Backyards)
Cast: Andie MacDowell (Sex, Lies, and Videotape), Chris O’Dowd (Of Mice and Men, Molly’s Game)
Runtime: 1 hr 31 min
by John DeSando
Love After Love should continue the prepositional phrase forever because the major players in this finely wrought drama are forever looking for love or grieving about it. Matriarch Suzanne (Andie MacDowell) loses her husband and wanders around her two sons almost in a fog of grief but maybe more in puzzlement about how they are working out their fates without her influence.
They are flawed adults, like womanizing son, Nicholas (Chris O’Dowd), who has a conflicted intimacy with his mother but more with himself as he wanders among showing the greatest puppy eyes in cinema. He is an emblem of the players who never seem at peace with their current or future partners.
This episodic, fragmented story, whose jumping back and forth in time is occasionally disorienting, in its unsympathetic way, reveals the puzzle-like lives of sentient beings who witness death, go through its mourning rituals, and search for love, carnal and otherwise, in, it would seem, a hedge against oblivion.
Co-writer/director Russell Harbaugh, in a promising debut, navigates smoothly in rough affective waters, saving the best scenes by interspersing them among some fairly quotidian events that play naturally to the death motif. When alcoholic son, Chris (James Adomian), does a standup about the difficulty of Jesus competing with his Father, the metaphor is not lost but not heavy-handed either. Both sons are struggling to compete with dad and themselves.
Love After Love is a satisfying drama about all of us in families we know have dysfunctional working parts but who are on the greatest quest of all for love after love, after love, after love, forever.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com