Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Aftermath

Set in post-WWII Germany where Allied Forces are attempting to restore order, The Aftermath is half a good movie punctuated by the performance of Keira Knightley as a military wife who is uprooted from London to Hamburg where her husband (Jason Clarke) is stationed. While many Germans are homeless and sheltered into camps, the Morgans find themselves housed in the lush estate of a German architect (Alexander SkarsgÄrd) who moves into the attic with his teenage daughter (Flora Thiemann).

As a period drama much of The Aftermath works well. There's an interesting story to tell here about the role of the winners asserting control over the locals, hunting out Nazi sympathizers, and working to try and help rebuild the broken city. Sadly, much of the story instead is focused on the couple's troubled marriage and her growing involvement with their host. The film was adapted from Rhidian Brook's novel of the same name. I wonder if the affair comes off as tawdry on the printed page. That's not to say this storyline doesn't offer moments, such as a terrific scene involving Knightley breaking down while discussing the loss of their child during the war.

As a fan of Knightley, The Aftermath offers just enough to keep me interested. Jason Clarke, who may well be the most boring actor in history, is actually put to good use here in the role of a husband who is detached from everything but the day-to-day challenges of his job. And the film does showcase how both sides struggle to pick up the pieces after a war that tore their lives apart. The subplot involving the teenage girl and a Nazi-loving thug doesn't do much for anyone involved other than make you wonder how the characters all skirt through the events without consequences in the film's final act. Nor is the film's rather obvious conclusion satisfying. Flawed in several ways, it still might be worth searching out on home video for fans of the genre and for Knightley's performance.

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