Film review: Aftermath

Synopsis

Rachael Morgan (Kiera Knightley) travels to Hamburg, Germany to meet her husband and British colonel Lewis (Jason Clarke) who is charged with cleaning up the aftermath of a WW2 bombing.

The couple requisition an extravagant manor outside the troubled streets of Hamburg, where they find themselves living with disenfranchised German widower Herr Lubert (Alexander Skarsgard) and his daughter (Flora Thiemann).

As Rachel comes to terms with the loss of her son and absence of her husband, she begins to find common ground with the grieving Lubert.    

Our review

Kiera Knightley is elegant and cold, Alexander Skarsgard is brooding and Jason Clarke plays the uninterested husband. There is nothing amiss about their performances but there is also nothing inspiring in the way they woodenly play their parts.

Even the cold beauty of the scenery and sad, crumbling Hamburg that mirrors its people can’t give life to this attempt at a period drama epic.

Despite everything, the film is a flatlined heart from start to finish. The only thing striking about the story is the rare German perspective and the question of their complicity in Hitler’s brutality – or if this even matters as their lives crumble around them. 

Kiera Knightley has also nailed the coffin shut on her acting career outside of period pieces and her resignation reverberates through every strangled line. Will audiences ever know if she can play anything but the tortured, English rose of bygone worlds? While this is undoubtedly her forte, her role as Rachael is shallow compared to her unforgettable roles as Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice), Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Colette) and Cecilia Tallis (Atonement). 

Final rating: 2.5/5

Classification: M

Director

James Kent

Cast

Kiera Knightley, Alexander Skarsgard, Jason Clarke, Flora Thiemann, Jannik Schumann and Kate Phillips

If you like this, try

Atonement, Colette, The Duchess, The Book Thief, Anna Karenina, Suite Francaise

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