Director: Joachim Lafosse
Cast: Bérénice Bejo, Cédric Kahn, Martha Keller, Jade Soentjens, and Margaux Soentjens
Studio: Distrib Films Us
Runtime: 100 minutes
Release Date: In limited theaters August 9, 2017
Rated: Not Rated
As the credits started rolling for After Love, I sat in silence soaking in what I had witnessed and breathed a sigh of relief. I was surprised because it’s been some time since a film left me truly speechless. Let me explain why.
Directed by Joachim Lafosse, After Love follows husband and wife Boris (Cédric Kahn) and Marie (Bérénice Bejo), who decide after 15 years of marriage to get a divorce. Since Boris is unable to afford a place of his own, the two agree to live together as they try and figure out how to get along, how to split up their belongings, and how much time they each will spend with their twin daughters, Jade and Marguax (Jade and Margaux Soentjens).
Now, if you’re thinking “Well, that sounds like a downer,” you are correct. After Love is one of the most heart-rending movies you’ll see this year. It will also knock you off your feet; from almost the beginning to the end, After Love had me floored.
This is a mature film that never treats its audience like it’s incapable of thinking on its own. Why this couple is splitting up is never explicitly explained as the film begins sometime after Boris and Marie make their decision. The dialogue and how characters react to certain things help the audience to understand why. You’re never able to pick a side in this conflict because the script and acting make it easy to comprehend where both characters are coming from. It’s fantastic writing and one more writers should emulate.
Lafosse’s direction is brilliant. There’s a fly-on-the-wall style to his filmmaking as movie goers are made to feel like they’re spying on this family through their turmoil; plus, the lack of music increases the realism. After Love takes place entirely in the couple’s apartment throughout most of the film, adding a sense of claustrophobia as we watch Boris and Marie’s fights become increasingly intense.
The direction and writing would be wasted though if the performances weren’t up to snuff. Luckily, everybody is top notch. I never felt like I was watching actors perform. Kahn and Bejo are fantastic and sell every line of dialogue. In each of their performances, they’re able to capture the sense that these characters loved each other at some point.
Even the performances by the Soentjens twins are fantastic. At such a young age, the two are able to depict the sadness and anger one feels when their parents are going through a divorce. As someone who thinks there are more bad child actors than good (honestly, most of the time it feels like they’re just reading from cue cards), I was surprised by the mature performances they give. Here’s hoping the two go on to great things.
The only real nitpick I have about After Love is that some viewers may be turned off by it. The film focuses primarily on people talking in an apartment and for some, that may seem boring. Others may not like it due to how uncomfortable the film might make them feel. For instance, there is a scene where Marie throws a dinner party and Boris shows up uninvited. If you have ever been in a room with two people who begin arguing, this scene perfectly encapsulates that feeling of cringing in your seat and wanting to leave.
However, it is for these reasons why I love After Love. It’s a human story that’s not afraid to show life doesn’t always work out and love can’t fix everything. After Love is riveting and should be seen. Just maybe don’t see it on a first date.
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All Photos: ©2017 Distrib Films US. All Rights Reserved.
© 2017, Dustin Kogler. All rights reserved.
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