Monday, 4 March 2019

Film: 'The Aftermath'

If all the films I've seen about World War Two were played back-to-back I shouldn't be surprised if they lasted very nearly as long as the conflict itself, and I'm more than a little weary of that being the pretext for yet another. In that mood of reluctance I took myself to see this latest which, admittedly, sounded a bit more interesting in that films dealing with what came immediately after the war had ended are really rare.

Hamburg, December 1946. - thus a few months after the Allied victory.
A British army colonel (Jason Clarke) is assigned to supervise the start of rebuilding the city from the rubble it was reduced to by allied bombing. He takes his wife (Keira Knightly) for them to reside in an undamaged mansion, currently occupied by a widowed German (Alexander Skarsgard) and his teenage daughter, plus a couple of female servants, the latter fully expecting to be turned out of their home to live in a camp. The meeting between the colonel and the German is formally polite enough but from the outset his wife puts on a scornful frostiness of not even acknowledging his presence.
From this opening scene it doesn't take much imagination to know how the story is going to develop.
A little way into the film we learn that its title is deceptive in not relating so much to the war itself as it does to a traumatic event which happened to the colonel and his wife a few years previous.  A similar back story involves an experience of the German and his daughter, the latter in particular being hostile to these 'intruders'. 
The colonel surprises his wife when he tells her that he's decided not to turn the German out with his dependants, but to let them stay and live in the upper section of the large house. She's not happy.

The story I found fairly predictable (though not entirely, I must aver), and with an ending so hackneyed and delivered so mawkishly I was hoping it just wouldn't 'do it' - but it did. If you like sentiment laid on thickly then this is for you!

As for the three actors at the centre of the story, Keira Knightly was as good as she always is, though I wasn't sure about Skarsgard who didn't seem very comfortable at all to my mind. However, I thought Jason Clarke as the colonel was the stand-out. Not a face I was familiar with but he was very convincing in a story which requires to be played out with absolute conviction.

Director James Kent (much TV work, less cinema feature experience) delivers in fairly matter-of-fact matter, with little exceptional enough to be retained in the memory. Still, the photography of this miserable Winter for the surviving Hamburgers is first-class throughout.

I don't think this film qualifies to be a genuine 'weepie' despite it being heavy on the overt sentiment. I do applaud it for the rare angle we see of the war's outcome, as well as for most of the acting. But I've got to hold back on any notion of a full-hearted recommendation.................5.5.

(IMDb.........6.4 / Rott. Toms.........awaited )

12 comments:

  1. It was worthy and quite beautiful to look at but not great

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    1. I'll allow that visually it was quite special, JayGee, but I won't credit with much else. However, as I also regularly say with regard to others, it's not a BAD film.

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  2. I am not a fan of war movies, the battles and all that,but i do enjoy movies about life during wars, like Schindler's List and The Pianist.
    This one may fall into that category, though it doesn't sound all that good.

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    1. No battles or rival army skirmishes in this one, Bob. The recently finished war is a looming presence with all its evidence still around, against which people are trying to get back to recovering some semblance of normality. So in that sense you may well take to the film more than I did.

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  3. When I saw the trailer for this, I felt I didn't need to see the whole film, as it was all laid out... I do like Keira Knightly, but I wish she would make more films like Finding a Friend...

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    1. I like Miss Knightly too, Debdor, and there's no complaints about her acting in this from me. I've seen her in about a dozen films though not the one you mention. Pity that in this particular film the material hadn't been stronger or less predictable. Still, she's not a reason to avoid it.

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  4. I remember seeing the trailer for this movie and thinking I could probably predict what would happen.

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    1. And you'd have been right. Still, it's nicely filmed visually, sufficiently to stifle the yawns.

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  5. I've seen the trailer for months and then they just stopped....and I've never seen the movie actually come to town. But with the 73 times I've seen the trailer, I lost any thought of wanting to see it - other than for Jason Clarke .

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  6. The number of times a too-often-seen trailer has put me off wanting to see any particular film at all just can't be reckoned. Whenever I'm aware that it's having that effect on me I look away from the screen and turn on my Walkman (if you recall what they are!) till it's over, In this case I had to battle against not only the trailer itself but the fact that it was yet another film relating to the subject of THAT war. Pity that seeing the actual film didn't make it any better.
    Interesting that you say the film hasn't come to your town. Maybe initial screenings in selected theatres showed takings to be too disappointing to chance putting it on, so money, or the lack of it, did the talking. But it was no great loss.

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  7. I too am satisfied with the trailer, and will save my pennies. I am quite happy to wait until this one is on my apple tv que or free on tv.

    julie

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    1. As a drama, TV is where it belongs, Julie, though one would miss the very impressive photography. Is that enough to make one go out of one's way to catch it in a cinema? Probably not.

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