Movie Review: 'The Aftermath'

By John Thomas
Home used in filming The Aftermath.

Just because something is over doesn’t mean it really is finished and done with – there is often an aftermath. The allies were successful in bringing WWII to a close, but there were still conflicts taking place through the war zones – especially in Hamburg, Germany, the setting for this film.

Stephen Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård) had been a successful architect, living in a palatial home with his wife and daughter. Then came the war in which his wife was killed. At present he has no work and no home – the British have appropriated it. The new occupants are Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke), a British colonel, and his wife Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley). Stephen is unhappy to leave his lovely home and Rachael is reluctant to move in. Eventually that changes.

Lewis is busy with his military obligations, Rachael broods and Stephen has a rebellious daughter with whom to deal. Having seen first hand the devastation the war has brought to the citizens of Hamburg, Lewis suggests to his wife that Stephen and his daughter be allowed to remain living in “their” home – in the remote upper floors, of course. Rachael still doesn’t like living in enemy territory, but reluctantly agrees to the arrangement.

The piano in the music room plays a major part in creating problems for the two families and eventually solutions to the additional conflicts as they continue to arise. The Steinway was the prized possession of the deceased wife and the instrument on which her daughter is now learning to play. Before the war, Rachael also enjoyed playing the piano, but under her present circumstances and mood, is reluctant to even touch the ivory and ebony covering the keys.

While Lewis observes the continuing conflicts raging between the British and Germans in the streets of Hamburg, he fails to notice the turmoil in his own home. The street struggles are physical, sometimes violent, the ones at home more emotional and stressful. He seeks to subdue the rioting in the streets, but what can he do at home if he is unaware of what is taking place? He announces one morning at breakfast that he has been given a six day assignment and will be absent from home for that time. Those six days are when things really take a wild turn at home.

When Lewis finally returns, he has a special announcement to make, one that he suggests celebrating with champagne. He even invites the maid to join Stephen, Rachael and himself to toast the coming event – one that has been long awaited. He’s jubilant and raises his glass in toast. Rachael and Stephen make guarded eye contact and timidly take a sip of wine from their glasses.

Aftermath is directed by James Kent (Credits: Testament of Youth, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister) and is a “should see” movie that runs 108 minutes.


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