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REVIEW: The Aftermath (2019)

PEx_MoviesPEx_Movies Administrator PEx Admin
edited March 2019 in Movie Reviews
Historically informative, visually beguiling, and written effectively for the screen.

PEx Reviewer : @benchboy
PEx Rating: 8/10
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

The Aftermath’s official trailer ostensibly teases enough for the casual viewer to tag it as simply an infidelity story which happened after WWII. But then again, it cannot be unnoticed that it’s top-billed by two beautiful actors and executive produced by Academy Award nominee for directing, Ridley Scott (Gladiator and The Martian), which could be good leads as to why you might want to give it a second look.

Set in Hamburg, Germany in 1946, The Aftermath follows Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley) as she is reunited with her husband Lewis (Jason Clarke), a British colonel tasked to oversee the rebuilding of the ravaged city and the de-Nazification of the people there. The conflict ensues when Lewis unexpectedly decides to allow the previous owners of the house they have occupied via government sequestration, widower German architect Stefan Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård) and his daughter, to stay with them instead of sending them to a camp.

Uneasy at first with the setup and still grieving the death of her son while often left alone in the house, Rachael eventually sheds her Germanophobic instincts and develops an attraction for Stefan, who also lost his wife in the war. They get tangled in an affair quickly enough, but of course as in most narratives of the same cloth, it gets discovered and choices are soon made.

Indeed, the plot is a bit soapy, and it cannot be further highlighted when you overhear someone in the back after the screening, “parang sa Halik lang.” I would leave the judgment open as to whether the reference to the ABS-CBN soap opera fits, but definitely, watching The Aftermath is notches beyond indulging in mediocre marital misdemeanor fare.

It is at the very least historically informative, visually beguiling, written effectively for the screen (it was adapted from a book by Rhidian Brook), and undeniably served convincing performances from its cast. Director James Kent’s contrasts of the almost freezing ambiance outdoors against the homey interiors of the Lubert mansion, as his depiction of the war’s aftermath for the defeated versus that for the victors, deserve merit. Same goes with the neat and spot-on cinematography courtesy of Franz Lustig.

In addition, it’s worth noting that in spite of the teleserye comparison, it’s not as easy to condemn the characters in The Aftermath for their actions, or undoings. It was clearly laid out in the film what led Rachael to commit infidelity, why Lewis seemed to prioritize his job over Rachael, and what kind of a German guy Stefan is. They just don’t have ill personas or motives.

In one scene where Stefan was touring Lewis in his house, the German admits to not knowing the English name for a body of water to which a river at the back connects. The Brit supplies the answer, then remarks, “It’s all the same sea in the end.”

Maybe infidelity stories are identical after all, ever stoking our hidden proclivities, but it’s arguably never the same effect to every reader/viewer. It’s perhaps the same sea, but not the same tan for every swimmer.

#TheAftermath now showing exclusively at Megaworld Lifestyle Malls Cinemas – Newport, Eastwood, Venice, Uptown BGC, Southwoods, Lucky Chinatown and Festive Walk.

Check out the official discussion thread here: The Aftermath
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