Sunday, March 7, 2010

Afterwards 2008

The film is directed by Gilles Bourdos, which has not directed that many films. This is the first one I have seen from him. From the get go the movie sounds promising, the cast includes actors like; John Malkovich and Romain Duris, seems like I have been watching lots of movies with him lately. I think he will break into the international scene very soon. This film is likely to be criticized for its structural fallibility and overly sentimental reflections on the nature of existence and the anxieties involved with acknowledging mortality, Afterwards is a lyrical and occasionally beautiful visual poem that essentially crumbles under the weight of its ambitions. But I have to say that the feelings of anxiety about death from the main character Nathan (Romain Duris) did affect me.

The fact that the structure is not strong produces a lack of relationship and character development between the leads, specifically between Nathan and Claire (Evangeline Lilly) his ex-wife, this keeps the film from having the emotional impact it strives for more especially in an epilogue that should have been devastating. On the upside, sincerity and a refreshingly “unhip” atmosphere make these flaws substantially more palatable and forgivable.

After dumping a mourning client’s lawsuit based on his projected income from the case, Nathan is visited by a peculiar physician named Garrett Goodrich (John Malkovich), who proceeds to lecture Nathan on human kindness and hypoglycaemia. Nathan is initially convinced that Garrett is insane but soon changes his position after the good doctor accurately predicts deaths. Malkovich in general seems to like characters who seem to be out this world’s reality; almost divine. The doctor he plays in this movie could be an angel or a devil in his voice and classic affected accent. 

Assuming his own mortality is on the line, Nathan reluctantly follows Garrett’s advice by visiting an old friend (Pascale Bussers) who is about to die and rekindling his broken relationship with his ex-wife (Evangeline Lilly), which ended following the death of their infant son. Annihilation anxiety is explored with depth, as Nathan responds with anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance with genuine fears of the unknown and a desire to thwart design.

Allegories and imagery involving swans and cactus flowers are a little trite but not entirely unwelcome given the lyrical nature of the film. They add to the overall aesthetic, which hits a high note whenever Malkovich has a glowing vision of impending death. 

This is the kind of film that is best digested with emotion and feelings rather than analysis and thought.

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