This post WWII movie offers typical soap opera cliches
World War II dramas are usually compelling, whether they take place before, during, or after. Sometimes they’re not even about fighting, but instead, they’re about guilt and memories. In fact, I was just reminded of another post WWII drama called “Never Look Away,” which was a German import about a young artist, whose love is the daughter of a sadistic Nazi doctor. That movie may not exceed “Schindler’s List,” but it was still compelling in its truth and secrets.
I can’t say the same for “The Aftermath,” director James Kent’s (“Testament of Youth”) take on Rhidian Brook’s novel. It promises you affairs, emotions, and reactions from the Germans and British following the war, but all of this feels like generic soap opera material. This is the kind that’s never takes any risks, and leaves you uninterested.
As the story begins, Keira Knightley as Rachel Morgan arrives in Hamburg, Germany to reunite with her British Colonel husband Lewis (Jason Clarke) during the city’s post-war reconstruction. They’re assigned to occupy the estate of a German architect named Stephen Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård) and his daughter Freda (Flora Thiemann). And much to Rachel’s chagrin, her husband allows them to stay.
What Rachel and Stephen have in common are they are both widows. She lost her son (Fredrick Preston), and he lost his wife, both of them during the war for different reasons. And despite getting off on the wrong foot with their separated house areas, the two begin an affair. And that’s helpful, considering the facts that Lewis is always away on business, and barely showing any grief for his deceased son.
“The Aftermath” has a nice production design by Sonia Klaus (“Gladiator,” “Prometheus”), when it comes to the German destruction and the estate the married couple must reside in. They look fine, even if the girl complains some of the furniture looks too modern.
Aside from that, the movie was just more of the same. It barely delves into the real pain and misery of the characters, including some Germans who blame the British for their loss in the war. In fact, Freda falls for young rebel (Jannik Schumann), who eventually attacks Lewis; but that story gets lost.
Keira Knightley has been in some fine non-Pirates movies lately like “Collette” or “The Imitation Game,” but her character is more of a complainer, than a strong woman. But at least, she was marginally better in this than her last bomb “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.”
This is a big skipper.