Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: The Aftermath

In this postwar drama, Keira Knightley is swept up in a politically dicey romance.




Photo by David Appleby / Fox Searchlight Pictures
 

If you’re going to play with fire, at least try to do something impressive with it.

Period drama “The Aftermath” tap-dances around a crater of problematic subject matter as it depicts the romance between a British officer’s wife and a German architect in (immediate) post-war Dresden. If you’re wondering what stance the movie takes on the delicate question of culpability among German non-members of the Nazi party who indirectly supported the regime: It takes none in particular.

You ... you kinda have to, though.

After Hitler’s fall, the British are trying to mop up Germany despite crippled infrastructure and plenty of very bitter Germans. Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke) is military middle management, attempting to keep his underlings from further irritating the populace while also dealing with attacks from surviving Nazi loyalists.

He brings his somewhat estranged wife, Rachel (Keira Knightley), from London, where she remained throughout the war (and lost a child to German bombs). The couple stay in the requisitioned home of a German architect, Stefan Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård); Herr Lubert and his teen daughter, Freda (Flora Thiemann), still live upstairs.

Between the constantly seething nature of the marriage and the long, meaningful glances exchanged by Rachel and Stefan, there’s no ambiguity about where this thing is going: These two are gonna hook up, then we’re gonna see what happens. Secondary plots about Lewis’ efforts to keep the peace and Freda’s dalliance with an angry young man do eventually tie back in, but in a manner that’s more Lifetime Original Movie than literary.

Clarke is quite good and Knightley is fine, but neither performance is essential. The trouble is that “The Aftermath” is almost purely concerned with the affair, which means it could’ve happened in any period and any locale — thus making the highly charged setting incidental. No film should use World War II and Naziism incidentally.

“The Aftermath” has a few stray observations about life in the wake of war strewn throughout its script in the same way that cheap lo mein will have a few stray shrimp scattered among the noodles. It does not say enough to justify its callous setting. Perhaps if the pulp romance were dialed way up, it could pass as some kind of deliberately trashy lark. Director James Kent, unfortunately, seems to labor under the delusion that this is an insightful film, and thus treats it with dignity it neither earns nor deserves.

My Rating: 4/10
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Sharing Knives Grows into Sharing Farms

For its third season, the collaborative dinner series at Ace Hotel will celebrate the region’s growers.

A Slice of Pizza Kept Sean McDowell Going in the Early Days

After 41 years in the business, the legendary rock DJ on WDVE has announced his retirement.

This New App Will Help You Track Upcoming Cicada Swarm

Follow Brood VIII, which is expected to have three species of periodical cicadas emerging from the soil as early as this month, on the Cicada Safari App.

Best Restaurants in Pittsburgh in 2019

Our annual roundup of Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants covers a lot of ground. The list of 30 includes everything from fine dining at a resort hotel to a scrappy, farm-to-table breakfast and lunch counter in Bloomfield.

This Restless Pair are Pittsburgh Restaurateurs of the Year

Together, Richard DeShantz and Tolga Sevdik of the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group form the Pittsburgh restaurant world's most dynamic duo.

Our 50 Years: The Best Restaurants of 1999

Twenty years later, nearly everything about our best restaurants list is different. But our picks for the best of 1999 hint at the great leap forward that was on the horizon.

How Pittsburgh's Homeless Teens Escape the Mean Streets

For homeless Youth, living on the street can end up being worse than what they’re running from. Gaining their trust and guiding them to safety is a long and painful process, but local agencies are making progress.

Announcing our Scenic Photo Contest Winner

There were 682 photos submitted to our Scenic Vistas photo contest, which ran during the month of April. Art Director Chuck Beard picked a winner and two runners-up.

Braddock Brewery Brew Gentlemen Turns Five

A deliberately slow fermentation has the young brewers primed for a big expansion.

Claudy Pierre is Non Stop

The owner of Arnold’s Tea spends his time connecting communities and working to empower a new generation of Pittsburghers.

Daytripping: Enjoy Comedy History 3 Hours from Pittsburgh

The national comedy center in Jamestown, N.Y. takes the whole comedy thing kinda seriously (just kidding)

Remembering Some of Mister Rogers' Famous Houseguests

A world renowned French pantomime artist, an astronaut, a TV news anchor and a beloved chef are among the notable visitors to Mister Rogers' neighborhood.

Perspectives: Call of the Wild

Award-winning journalist Sally Wiggin explains the evolving role of zoos, including the Pittsburgh zoo, to save endangered species from extinction.

Pirates’ First Quarter Record Defies Logic if Not Description

The 21-19 record the Bucs took to San Diego doesn’t add up given all they’ve had to overcome. Perhaps there’s more to this team than meets the eye.

The 400-Word Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

Keanu Reeves returns, and Halle Berry arrives, as the action series broadens its scope.