Rob Reviews "The Aftermath"
I don’t know if it is my advancing age or not, but it seems like post World War II films have been a thing in the last few years or so. They have tackled all different forms of storytelling, and with director James Kent’s “The Aftermath,” it seems like the well is running dry.
It is five months after the war, and the British are beginning their occupation of Germany by taking over the residences of locals to help stabilize the region. Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke) welcomes his wife, Rachael (Keira Knightley), to Hamburg from London as they try to continue their life together in a home owned by Stephen Lubert (Alexander Skarsgard) and his daughter, Freda (Flora Thiemann). He is open to the idea while Greta is not, with the couples roles reversed. Rachael wants nothing to do with the entire plan given the way Germans are seen by the British, and coupled with she and Lewis’ own unresolved issues, a powder keg is lit on multiple levels amongst the backdrop of already tumultuous times.
It is nothing short of a shame to see a cast this strong underutilized by a script that moves at the pace of a turtle trying to walk through an oil slick on an incline. Each of the story’s “surprises” can be seen a mile away (and from what I am told, they are all given away in the trailer to begin with, which is NEVER a good sign), and less than two hours almost seems like triple that. It is rare that I need to leave the auditorium for any reason, but I actually had to take a restroom break that actually could have waited until afterwards, but I needed a breather from trying to slog through this thing.
I cannot complain about the performances or visuals (Thiemann is REALLY strong here, especially working opposite some modern Hollywood legends), but they simply cannot make up for how shallow and drawn out this script is. Based on a novel of the same name by Rhidian Brook, I have no idea how rough it must be to get through the source material in less then a LOT of sittings (if it is faithful to it and not “aided” by enough fluff to get to a feature film length), and this simply brings nothing new much less a formula that could keep my attention for the entire time. I also cannot say that this would make a good stage production instead of a feature, but in the way this story is told, I could definitely seen it translated as such since there really isn’t much in its style that would be tough to bring to that medium.
It’s too early in the year for me to say where “The Aftermath” will fall in my year-end review, but I think it is at the point where it will not appear anywhere near my Top Ten. Whether or not it will be on the opposite end of that spectrum remains to be seen, but I can say don’t be shocked either way.