The Aftermath (2019)

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Food: On Halloween evening, I was in Atlanta, Georgia, so I joined a group of girls and hit a well-known spot called Il Localino for Italian food and to celebrate the nights festivities. (We came in costume). The place was decked with hanging lanterns and twinkling lights, bringing an energized atmosphere. With a group of five, we shared several plates: Prosciutto melon, classic ceasar salad, mozzarella caprese, rigatoni bolognese, and fettuccine alfredo. We also each got our own cocktails because the offered a festive Halloween movie. I got their Black Manhattan which was delicious, and then followed it up with a glass of red pinot noir. The entire experience was a blast – just go and take it all in for yourself. (Not to mention, Kathryn Hahn was there and came over to chat with us!!!)

Film: James Kent’s “The Aftermath” stars the queen of period piece drama, Keira Knightley, accompanied by Jason Clarke and Alexander Skarsgård. Taking place in 1946, post World War II, a British colonel (Clarke) and his wife, Rachael Morgan (Knightley), are sent to live in Hamburg, Germany to reconstruct the destroyed city. However, tensions run high when the colonel decides to allow them to share the home with their previous owners.

Stefan Lubert (Skarsgård) and his daughter Freda tiptoe around the uncomfortable situation, as Morgan is often alone in the house with them, left to deal with her unresolved feelings about what she lost during the war and how her relationship with her husbands stands in the wake. Aside from the residual prejudiced tensions that arise at every possible situation, a different kind of tension seems to erupt within the walls of the house as well. Lubert and Morgan seem to be pulled toward each other, lingering longer with every glance and building up to an irrefutable lust (with two people as beautiful as Skarsgård and Knightley, chemistry is hardly needed for the audience to want to see them together).

“The Aftermath” is based off a novel by Rhidian Brook, who was inspired by his own family history. His grandfather, Walter Brook, was put in this position in 1946, when he made the unusual decision to share it with the previous owners instead of dispossessing them, in which case they would be sent to a refugee camp. The premise is incredibly interesting. The dynamics between people after the destruction of a war is complicated. Forced into a new normal, and bearing the predisposed anger or resentment, mixed with the leftover politics, makes for building or holding onto relationships tiresome.

This film had a lot of promise, but less meat to fill it out. Having not read the book, I would presume to think a story like this would be better with more time. A book or even a mini-series would allow the writer to flesh out the characters more thoroughly and the convoluted story lines in a way that may hit harder. Instead, the simplification of it on film makes it good, but forgettable. Or maybe I should say, “The Aftermath” is an enjoyable watch, but will become a bit of an afterthought.

 

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