One day someone somewhere is going to have to bless me and allow me to sit quietly and observe how these distro companies make their decisions in regards to marketing their respective movies. Take this movie ‘Afterwards’ for instance. Note that this movie has cover art that shows actress Evangeline Lilly and actor John Malkovich on the cover with Malkovich holding a smoking gun. At no point in this movie does Malkovich hold a smoking gun, though there are two scenes featuring guns in the movie, to be fair. In addition the star of the movie is Romain Duris who makes no appearance on this particular box cover but he is French and I the suppose the assumption is that American audiences wouldn’t know who he is, but these people do watch TV and ‘Lost’ so they probably have a good idea who Evangeline Lilly is, even though she’s on screen all of ten minutes. Thus armed with that bit of disinformation I can see where someone might pick up this movie and be disappointed that they didn’t get an Evangeline Lilly movie with gunplay and John Malkovich as the sneering heavy. Please don’t blame director Gilles Bourdos for this.
Duris assumes the role of driven Manhattan attorney Nathan Del Amico. Years ago as a child young Nathan was struck by a speeding automobile while trying to get help for a drowning friend and left us for while, but he did return. Today Nathan is focused, curt, unemotional, short with people and completely locked into the job at hand which has made him a star at his firm. Unfortunately Nathan also has a similar disposition with his ex-wife Claire (Lilly) and his young daughter Tracey (Sara Waisglass). It wasn’t always this way though because there was a time not too long ago where the Del Amico’s were extremely happy. We know this because through flashback we can see the Del Amico’s walking in lush fields, all dressed in white, with one child prancing in the lilies and a baby on her mother’s hip amid falling fluffy white pixie dust. Believe me when I tell you that this is something only extremely happy people do. A terrible tragedy make the fluffy pixie dust go away.
Things get way more complicated in Nathan’s miserable current life when he meets the really odd Dr. Kay (Malkovich) who speaks in riddles and serves the main purpose of
making an angry man even more angry. Dr. Kay apparently is a messenger and has the gift, or curse as it may be, of observing people via a bright light which surrounds them which alerts him that said person is soon to die. Nathan doesn’t believe this at first, despite the doc proving it to him, and then he believes just slightly and attempts to redirect the eventual death of an old friend (Pascale Bussieres) who the doctor told him was going to expire soon. Nathan actually succeeded in this, or so he believed, but the hour of death cannot be predicted… unless it’s necessary for the script. Now Nathan realizes that this doctor has shown up to deliver him a message and that Nathan has to get his life in order and prepare himself for the end.
Understandably, Nathan proceeds to freak completely out, but eventually he resigns himself to his fate and tries to make things right with his wife and his daughter before his white light is extinguished completely. So he thought.
Based on Guillaume Musso’s novel ‘Et Apres…’ Afterwards is a methodically paced, beautifully shot film that does have some slight elements of a thriller and includes a touch of the supernatural but for the most part it is a family drama and also a drama dealing with life and death, and for what I believe this film set out to do, it does it very well.
Rare is the movie that we watch, on our television no less even though it’s a really nice TV, that the cinematography is so crisp and so superb that you have to give a shout out the cinematographer but such is the case with ‘Afterwards’ and its cinematographer Pin Bing Lee as this movie is so beautifully shot that the imagery almost becomes an organic character all unto itself. The wonderful images, unique storyline and solid performances turned in by Duris and Malkovich when taken as a whole made ‘Afterwards’ a very satisfying movie experience for me, despite the fact there was no smoking gun from John Malkovich.
However the movie was a little heavy handed with its message and the same cinematography that we had to mention for its excellence was also used to unashamedly manipulate its audience… sunny and white = happy… gray and overcast = miserable. What I call methodically paced others might call it slow, and the script does deal from the bottom of the deck on occasion. Dr. Kay informs us you can’t predict the hour of death but when he needed to prove his point to Nathan to move the story along, not only did he predict the hour of death he practically predicted the second of death… unless of course I missed something there.
But regardless, ‘Afterwards’ was a very good film which told its story well and hid it’s hand, at least from me, even better. It doesn’t play fair all the time (blame the director) and the marketing is completely misleading (not his fault) but this doesn’t derail ‘Afterwards’ from being a rewarding cinema experience.