The Aftermath – Film Review by Katie McCann
Director: James Kent
Writers: Rhidian Brook (novel), Joe Shrapnel
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Keira Knightley, Jason Clarke
The Aftermath is set in the aftermath (get it?) of World War II in Hamburg. After the horrific bombing by the allies the whole city is left in ruins, its people lost and displaced, with a general feeling of unease at every turn. Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke) has been charged with ending the civil unrest while he serves as governor but will his estranged wife Rachel (Keira Knightley) share in his passion for helping the Germans? Enter tall, pouting Alexander Skarsgard and you know things are about to get complicated and unnecessarily broody.
The overall plot of The Aftermath is mildly irrelevant. It’s all just one long set up for Knightly and Skarsgard to get it on for no real reason except they’re stuck in the same house together and are stupidly attractive. So why the hell not sleep together in an overly drawn out sex scene with little to no chemistry between the leads? What else could they possibly spend their time doing?
While I feel the point of the film is to relate to Rachel and her plight with distant yet also super sensitive husband Lewis, Knightley brings so little charm to the performance it is almost painful to watch and impossible to sympathise with. Yet Jason Clarke as her shafted husband is hugely watchable. His struggle to keep his cool in a city falling apart, while balancing the grief he feels for a briefly mentioned dead son, is very engaging. He is a massively underrated actor and one that deserves a lot more screen time. Yet what the story lacks in substance it makes up for in the cinematography and costume design. It is simply stunning and richly realised. The costumes at the ball towards the end are particularly beautiful, showing off the glamour of the time in juxtaposition to the destruction all around.
It is a beautiful film to look at but, sadly, a boring and drawn out film to watch.