Visual delight, romance, and tragedy make for a pleasant if not great early spring viewing.
Director: James Kent (Testament of Truth)
Screenplay: Joe Shrapnel (Frankie and Alice) et al.
Cast: Keira Knightley (Colette), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty)
Runtime: 1 hr 48 min
By: John DeSando
“We dropped more bombs in Hamburg on one weekend than fell on London in the whole of the war.” Col. Morgan (Jason Clarke)
WW II was unkind to all. Five months into the 1945 allied occupation of Germany, The Aftermath, based on the book by Rhidian Brook and set in Hamburg, chronicles another war that never ends: the love triangle. Facing off are Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley) in the middle; her husband, Colonel Morgan, on one side; and the hunky German resident of their home, Stephen Lubert (Alexander Skarsgard), on the other.
Daily and weekly preoccupation with German rebel groups and the challenges of de-Nazification rebuilding, Lewis lets his lonely, grieving wife (she lost a son in the blitz) fall into Lubert’s sculpted arms. So gently does director James Kent let her fall, that her infidelity seems almost acceptable, given the tattered life of post-war Germany.
Too much of this dark romance centers on the lovers kissing and hugging rather than helping the wounded and the stunned
reacclimate themselves. The tension builds from the Nazis’ nightmare-like presence and questions about Lubert’s sympathies during the war. Although the colonel must face his wife’s infidelity, his character reminds us of the divided responsibilities and further complications when one must deal with infidelity as well as war’s aftermath.
Tragi-romantic and historic— The Aftermath comes at a good time of year for a quiet reflection on loyalty, love, and duty. Besides the visually stunning estate, picturesque snow, and immaculate automobiles, the leads are handsome and smart, making up for the lack of originality in the triangle (Knightley’s gold evening dress alone is stunning).
Formulaic though it is, it still engages because the longing to be desired and belong is timeless and universal.
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