Afterwards Gilles Bourdos

Afterwards Gilles Bourdos
It's hard to imagine just who the audience might be for Afterwards, an international co-production that deals almost explicitly with existentialist notions of death and annihilation anxiety, which has been labelled by most as either pretentious, oppressive, or both. Its deliberate pacing alone would deter most, given the implicit cinematic expectation of staged plot points for clarifying terminus, while the lack of a singular unifying philosophical vision will alienate those privy to systemic interpretation. While these speed bumps certainly limit appreciation, the biggest issue is that Nathan (Romain Duris), our high-powered lawyer protagonist, is a bit of an obnoxious turd. Initially, his hostility makes sense, given a recent break-up with wife Claire (Evangeline Lilly) and the bizarre news from the enigmatic Dr. Kay (John Malkovich) that he might die soon. But as the film progresses, it gets tired. What keeps things intriguing, however, is the mysterious way that the idiosyncratic doctor can anticipate death, and his constant manipulation of Nathan. He forces the curmudgeonly attorney to engage with an optimistic waitress named Anna (Pascale Bussieres), with the knowledge that she is going to die, unbeknownst to her. Nathan's doomed determination to save her, while asking himself what the point is of getting involved with someone that is going to die soon, provides us with the overriding context of discovering purpose in a seemingly fruitless and fleeting life. As such, the melancholic tone is entirely appropriate, even if deemed oppressive by viewers unimpressed by the quiet beauty in sombre moods. An occasionally detached sensibility from director Gilles Bourdos could easily be criticized but for the most part, Afterwards is successful in its aims. The main issue is that of interest, as most people simply won't find the appeal in watching a two-hour movie about accepting and understanding death. Truth be told, this film was more affecting upon second viewing. No bonus features are included with the DVD aside from a trailer. (E1)