The Aftermath Review
Twentieth Century Fox
What’s It About?
Set in the aftermath of World War 2, the wife of a British Colonel joins him in Hamburg, as he tries to maintain order and administer a post-war settlement. They commandeer a lovely home of an architect, but allow him and his daughter to remain in the house. Inevitably passions of all kinds flare up.
Who’s In It?
Keira Knightley (Pirates Of The Caribbean, Atonement, & more recently Colette)
Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, Everest & more recently First Man)
Other notables include:
Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood, The Legend Of Tarzan, & more recently Little Big Lies)
Martin Compston (Red Road, Barney Thomson, & more recently Mary Queen Of Scots)
Director: James Kent (Testament Of Youth)
Following on from his impressive adaptation of Vera Brittain’s World War I drama Testament Of Youth, director James Kent treads fairly familiar ground with a drama set in World War 2. This time, however, he is focused on post war Germany, and the challenges of implementing a post war settlement on a starving and bitter nation.
Colonel Lewis Morgan is the man tasked with carrying out this challenging task and keeping the German public in some kind of order as they attempt to rebuild from the ashes of Hamburg. With his wife set to join him, the Colonel requisitions a stunning home from an architect and his daughter. But unlike many, Morgan is not a heartless man, and rather than pack Stefan Lubert and his teen off to a camp, he invites them to stay on in the attic – much to the anger of his wife.
Indeed there is much simmering beneath the stiff upper lips, with a terrible tragedy having befallen the couple in recent years and time and distance failing to prove an adequate bandaid. Throw into the mix that Lubert too has suffered the tragedy of losing his wife in the bombings, and the fact that both he and Mrs Morgan are the hottest people in the film, it is somewhat unsurprising with the emotionally distant and frequently busy Colonel Morgan, that these two get it on.
The lead performances are, as expected, first class. Jason Clarke, ever the bridesmaid and never the bride, is the honourable, put upon, sensitive Colonel, while Keira Knightley impresses as his emotionally fraught wife, with Alexander Skarsgard providing the temptation element.
Despite Hamburg still smouldering from the bombing, however, this romantic drama never really catches light, with some terribly clichéd scenes particularly the initial romantic scene involving a Florence Nightingale act, while characterisation is also limited with the teenage daughter and a German Nazi sympathiser proving more of a distraction than a boost to the story due to their lack of backstory.
The film looks wonderful with a mix of glitz and glamour juxtaposed with the aftermath of the war bombing, but this external element with the German and British prejudices (exemplified by Martin Compston’s character) might have been the more interesting route to take, or even a more sinister backstory for the architect.
In A Nutshell:
Set amongst the smouldering ruins of post war Germany, this glossy drama fails to catch light thanks to its by-the-numbers script and weak characterisation.
Keira Knightley’s performance
A predictable and weak script, with limited characterisation