After Love (2020) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Andrea’s Film Review
Set in the port town of Dover, Mary Hussain suddenly finds herself a widow following the unexpected death of her husband. A day after the burial, she discovers he has a secret just twenty-one miles across the English Channel in Calais. Available on the BFI player.
The downside of watching so many films (like I do) is that I often tend to forget them pretty much instantly the moment the credits are over.
Well, this is definitely not going to happen with this one. I’m pretty sure I’ll remember After Love (be careful, not the French film with the same title) for quite a long time, and all for the right reasons. This tiny little British film gripped me, hypnotised me, surprised me, intrigued me and moved me like few things have this year.
At the centre of it all, a subtle and yet towering performance by Joanna Scanlon playing a British woman who converted to Islam after marrying her husband. When he dies her whole world is turned upside down not just by the sudden event, but by a shocking revelation …
What can I say, without giving away too much? Joanna Scanlon is absolutely splendid on this. She spend most of the film tight-lipped, holding it all inside, but her eyes speak volumes.
In fact her performance is so powerful that it make even some of the slightly forced plot turns and machination of the script feel natural.
Written and directed by first timer Aleem Khan. After Love is possibly one of the best British films I’ve seen in a while and certainly since the pandemic started.
It’s a film that manages to explore incredibly weighty themes with the lightest of touch: it’s about death, grief, betrayal and loneliness as well as being also a beautifully observed study of women and the sacrifices some of them make for their husbands.
But don’t take me wrong, despite all this and its subject matter, this is not a depressing or heavy film, but a rather gripping story and ultimately a cathartic one, which finds the most surprising moments within the apparent domesticity of every-day life in which people are all leading a double life and often they are not even aware of that.
It is an unsentimental film packed with restrained emotions which slowly build and build and build to the point where, by the end, I was myself bathing in my own tears. Well yes, I might have looked like a wreck, but what an unexpected joy to find something so powerful and engaging!
I really loved it and could have easily watched another hour.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
Right now you can still catch After Love (2020) on the BFI Player.
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