Some of the recent works we’ve checked out include Birds of Prey, the theatrical release of The Rhythm Section, and some catch-up recently on A Quiet Place and Cold Pursuit. Last week, Darius stepped in provided a review for The Photograph.
This past week was winter break and normally that might be a good time to catch up on a few movies with kids. But when your kids are working – and work nights because of school during the day – and then they’re also fending off horrible colds, you don’t get too close to them for something like that. On the new side of things, I did manage to sneak in one film that had been under my radar. Released about a year ago in 2019 was The Aftermath, a quiet little piece that deals with some of the months after the end of World War II in Hamburg, Germany. It focuses on one of the British commanding soldiers that’s put up in a sizable mansion while there and his wife is brought in from London so he can have some semblance of normalcy. A number of wives were brought in, in fact, though they’re kept from seeing the realities of the war.
It’s not often you really get to see this particular time period of the war and it’s more of a relationship drama than anything else. It does deal with random Nazi’s in hiding that are looking to make some good kills in Hitler’s name and we do see the struggle of those who lived through the firebombing of the city and are trying to eke out an existence in the rubble. The simmering tensions are worth exploring what with the British soldiers in command and all because it is a fascinating point in time with how all sides handled things.
That said, this is a relationship drama because the main soldier, played by Jason Clarke, is trying to do the right thing by people as the war is over and he sees no need for violence. He’s gone through hell to survive to this point and just wants to let go of that while some others are still looking for blood or payback. His wife, played by Keira Knightly, is definitely a stranger in a strange land and with him not sharing this she can’t quite grasp it. Nor can she grasp his being pulled away for military service reasons repeatedly, which is always a frustrating point for me. The two have a strained relationship because of this but the real strain is with the loss of their son three years prior when London was bombed and he died. That factors heavily into the distance that they’re struggling to work through.
Temptation eventually enters her life in that the former owners of the home, a man named Lubert and his daughter Freda, never actually left. Clarke’s office had them stay on because the place was massive and he views it as theirs, letting them stay on the third floor. Lubert, played by Alexander Skarsgard, has that cool and aloof smokingness to him that frustrates her at first and then eventually brings them into a tightly wound and intense relationship over several days. He’s struggling with the loss of his wife some time before as well as loss is everywhere for those that lived throughout this war. And that’s a theme that’s well-explored as well as everyone is trying to figure out what’s right while mixing in all sorts of post-war elements. I thought it could do a lot more on the latter to give it a bit more richness and interest, but it seemed underplayed partially because character’s like Knightly’s come across as a little slow on things. She can’t figure out why there are blank spots in every home on the walls, not realizing that people had a picture of Hitler there – and that for many it was never by choice but to survive. She’s had her losses and it’s impacted her but she’s also someone who come across as very provincial and unable to think of the bigger world.
Beyond that I had a few films that I dipped into the background for that were fun to varying degrees. I popped on the 1993 film Executioners which gave me some classic Michelle Yeoh action in a Hong Kong film. I also delighted at the silliness of First Knight because it’s still hard to take both Sean Connery and Richard Gere seriously in this thing. What salvages it are the supporting cast and the time spent with Julia Ormond as Guinevere. I also took a little time down a different darker path of the Nazi side with a revisit of Gods and Monsters. McKellen continues to be fantastic and it’s a tight role for Brendan Frasher to play that really made me enjoy his work a whole lot.
What have you been watching this week?