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Nathan, a brilliant New York lawyer who leads a life of professional success, but his private life is pretty dismal since he divorced Claire, his only love. Until he meets Doctor Kay, a mysterious doctor who introduces himself as a "Messenger." He claims that he can sense when certain people are about to die, and that he is sent to help them put their life in order before it's too late. Nathan doesn't believe a word of this, but soon afterwards he witnesses some disconcerting scenes which seem to confirm the doctor's claims. Written by
In the scene where Nathan approaches an ambulance from behind, his feet are reflected in the shiny metal at the bottom of the vehicle's rear doors. Also reflected are the feet of the cameraman following him. See more »
Swannie... Come over here... Come to me... Nice, swan.
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Over the end credits music, you hear an ambulance winding through traffic. See more »
'O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?'
Sometimes the promotional department of a film causes people to not view a film because it is misrepresented by the graphics on the poster, the DVD cover, or the trailer. Such is the case with AFTERWARDS - a lovely exploration of the concept of death and dying philosophy that has nothing to do with the image of John Malkovich holding a smoking gun! And that is a shame: this is a film that has a lot to say and provides a lot to think about thanks to the writing, directing and acting. The story is adapted from the novel "Et Après..." by Guillaume Musso by Michel Spinosa and writer/director Gilles Bourdos. It is a complex story that thankfully due to the talent of the cast and director is able to carry the audience into a place perhaps not considered or discovered before. It is a thinking person's film and a rewarding one.
The film opens in an idyllic setting of a lake of water lilies where we observe a little French boy Nathan and an English speaking girl Claire gently admiring swans(interesting to note that swans are traditionally or mythically associated with death). The girl slips on the dock, is trapped, and sends the boy to find her parents. The boy runs to the highway where he becomes the victim of a tragic hit and run accident. The film then jumps ahead about twenty years and we discover Nathan (Romain Duris) as a successful New York lawyer living alone after his marriage to Claire (Evangeline Lilly) has ended after the crib death of their son, leaving Claire to manage alone in New Mexico with the couple's surviving daughter: Nathan cannot cope with the fact that he feels responsible for the son's death by not responding to his cries. A strange doctor, Dr. Kay (John Malkovich) appears in Nathan's life claiming that he is able to sense death before it happens: he works in a hospital for the terminally ill, among them is one young lad Jeremy (Reece Thompson) with cardiac carcinoma who is struggling with his incipient dying. Dr. Kay is not malevolent, he is simply a 'Messenger'
one given the ability to visualize a bright white halo around a
person who is soon to die. Nathan will not consider the veracity of this obtuse thought until Dr. Kay suggests he visit an old friend Anna (Pascale Bussières) who now works in a diner, living with her Russian father and her son. Nathan is curious, meets Anna, and upon visiting her home witnesses the death of Anna's father. Nathan contacts Dr. Kay, hostile that Dr Kay had suggested Anna was to die but instead lost her father, and Dr Kay reassures Nathan of the process: soon Anna dies also. At this point Dr Kay shares Nathan's history: Nathan did not die in the hit and run accident many years ago and was attended by Dr Kay who then knew that Nathan was also a Messenger. How Nathan turns his life around to flee to New Mexico and join Claire is the transformation of the film.
This is a delicate story told with sincerity and lack of sensationalism. It is a journey into the philosophy of what happens to us as we die. Nathan explains this to is daughter as death being like a ship that sails to the horizon and disappears to our eyes, yet the ship sails on beyond our scope of vision into another unknown space. Director Gilles Bourdos handles the pacing of this visually stunning film with such grace that it becomes a gentle work, allowing the finest acting yet seen from Malkovich, and reminds us of just how fine an actor Romain Duris has become. This is also a lovely introduction of Evangeline Lilly, an actress with tremendous screen presence and acting ability. Forget the trailer and the ugly cover of this DVD and allow yourself to enjoy this mesmerizingly beautiful film.
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