If you love war-era movies, full of impeccable period styling and plenty of intrigue, The Aftermath might be the film for you.
In fact, review site Rotten Tomatoes says that The Aftermath, which is based on a 2013 book of the same name by Welsh writer Rhydian Brook, is the perfect cinema event for passionate period drama enthusiasts.
The movie is set in Germany in 1946, with British actress Keira Knightley playing the wife of a British officer, played by Jason Clarke, who is charged with rebuilding ruined city of Hamburg. The couple are thrown together with a German widower, played by Alexander Skarsgard (you’ll recognise him as Nicole Kidman’s abusive husband in the TV series Little Big Lies).
Chemistry between the film’s three leads can only be described as “explosive” with the connection between them leaping off the screen in this captivating story of love, passion, betrayal and redemption.
The tensions between the Germans left in the city – Skarsgard’s Stefan has had his mansion requisitioned by the British forces to make a home for Knightly and Clark’s couple of straight-laced Brits with a troubled marriage – and the usurpers is mirrored by the tensions inside the lavish home that the three occupy with Stefan’s teenage daughter.
Both families have experienced heartbreak, with the British couple having lost their son in a bombing and the Germans’ their mother and wife in the same circumstances. As you might expect in this heated atmosphere, passion and betrayal are on the cards.
Critics have called the film handsome for its impeccable depictions of the period, judging the costume design “glorious”. Meanwhile, fans of Atonement and Pride & Prejudice will know Knightley’s skill at period drama.
Variety magazine noted that director James Kent was also experienced in wartime dramas, with his Testament of Youth also covering post-WWII.
“He’s a romantic and a classicist in a manner that has now fallen rather out of fashion, but makes him ideal for war films that largely play out on the battlefield of a beautiful human face,” Variety’s review says. “It’s easy to envision the studio-system version of ‘The Aftermath’ that would have had ’em bawling in the aisles in the 1940s.”