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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For a movie that concerned itself so much with death and dying, I was
surprised at how much it said about life and learning how to live.
Anyone who has been through a period of personal evolution will be able
to relate to the main character as he reflects on the past events of
his life and begins to change the dynamic of how he lives going
forward. Those who haven't already reached these conclusions on their
own will probably find it more difficult to understand.
I believe the reserved performance by the main character was a perfect representation of a man who is led by his career and by practical matters, and has shut himself off from his emotions and any real sense of living. Malkovich plays the somewhat creepy, mysterious benefactor of insights unseen (until the end of the movie) and delivers everything you'd expect from him in such a role. The female characters generate the same sympathy and compassion from the audience as they do from their male counterparts in the film, and that's why this movie works. If we are moved, we understand how they would be moved.
Preparing oneself to die by truly embracing life is not the theme I was expecting from this movie, but it's probably a better one than what I was looking for. I generally classify movies like this as "must see" films because anyone that hasn't figured something like this out on their own, really should. And the sooner, the better.
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
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just saw this movie and the main selling point was Malkovich in the cast. He was fine, as was the female lead played by Evangeline Lilly. The main thing that did this movie in for me was a rather leaden performance from Romain Duris. The basic plot is that Malkovich is a "messenger" or someone who can foretell people's deaths. He is also a doctor working with dying people. He contacts Duris and, for the greater part of the movie, the audience is lead to believe that Duris is destined to die. Needless to say, this isn't the way the movie plays out. The director (or writer) manages to establish a dull, plodding rhythm to the film which is confusing and distracting. No more info for anyone interested in seeing the film and the film is worth a rental, if only to watch and revel in another quirky performance from Malkovich and a great performance from Evangeline Lilly. The main problem is it's difficult to empathize, sympathize or otherwise ize with Duris who has the emotional range of a rock in this film.
The movie overall was... ooookay. Performance was almost realistic, but
I couldn't relate to the main character, though I don't think it's the
actor's fault, it's just bad directing. I mean, seriously awful
directing. It almost has nothing to do with the book. Honestly if I
hadn't read it, i wouldn't have seen the movie.
It is completely different from the book. Of course, the book is always better, but this is just too different. First of all, the clinic that is run by Dr. Kay ( Gudrich in the book ) is supposed to be a nice place, that does not look like a clinic at all. It is supposed to be an almost happy place, if that's possible. I don't think Duris should've been chosen for the role * though he did play it well considering the movie*, because Nathan is supposed to be a completely different personality.
Secondly, the relationship between Nathan and Claire has not been shown consistently.
The whole movie had this dull, tiresome atmosphere and nothing's ever happening. They've shown everything in a different light.
In the book, there are ACTUALLY reasons, excuses for characters actions and all of the characters have an emotional depth that the movie just does not show.
All in all, this is a movie probably worth watching if you haven't read the book, because it does have some life-is-worth-living motives and it actually can make you appreciate it more, but if you, on the other hand HAVE read the book, I'm begging you not to watch the movie, it will just ruin it for you.
In New York, the French Nathan (Romain Duris) is a successful lawyer
divorced from Claire (Evangeline Lilly) and with a little daughter. One
day, he meets the mysterious head of the department of the Saint Louis
Clinic Dr. Kay (John Malkovich) in his office and the man shows that he
knows details of his life. Dr. Kay discloses that he can foretell
people's death and he proves to Nathan that he is not a fraud. Nathan
is assigned by Dr. Kay to give comfort to those that will die soon.
Further, he discovers that his fate is also to be a Messenger.
"Afterwards" is a low-paced drama with a beautiful cinematography about people that has the ability to know when people will die. The unexpected scene in the beginning is very impressive but the screenplay is confused, using many flashbacks but without explanation of the whole scenario. Nevertheless, it discloses in a sensitive way the life and tragedies of the tough lawyer Nathan. John Malkovich is excellent as usual; the gorgeous Evangeline Lilly has also a good performance; but Romain Duris is miscast since he is absolutely non-charismatic with his arrogant expression. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Depois de Partir" ("After the Departure")
The man and the voice of John Malkovich have carried forward from 'Burn
after Reading' to this movie but this, unlike that movie, is a pure
drama thriller and not a comedy. The beginning and the end take a bit
of thinking about and thank goodness for DVD and the chance to play it
a couple of times to try and understand it.
There was a period three quarters through the film when I felt the film definitely dragged, Nathan visiting his divorced wife Claire in wherever it was and his reluctance to fly home back to New York,but part from that, the film entertained and provided lots of interest.
Malkovich plays a Doctor who is a messenger with the vision to foresee the death of someone with a glowing white light. Dr Kay (Malkovich) first encounters Nathan the lawyer as a child and it is later in life when he sets out on a mission to deliver the message to him literally.
Of course, things don't pan out quite what you might expect but this is a fine drama, plenty of suspense, nice scenes and you get what you pay for. You shouldn't be disappointed.
Just love that eerie voice of Malkovich, so unique! Just imagine if Anthony Hopkins possessed it for Hannibal!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As the story begins, we are taken to an ideal bucolic setting that ends
in what might be a lake. A boy and a girl are playing in a dock. The
little girl steps on a loose board and gets trapped. She begins
screaming while the boy goes running to get help. As the boy goes to
cross the highway, he is struck by an oncoming car. This scene holds
the key to perhaps understanding the mystery posed by the creators of
this complex film.
Without explanation we are taken to a Manhattan plush conference room where Nathan, a successful lawyer is hearing a colleague present a case which the firm might be interested in taking. It involves a suit against an airline where several family members have died in the Caribbean due to negligence. Nathan does not quite agree with the presentation and decides it is not for the firm.
At this time, an enigmatic man, who claims to be a Dr. Kay, arrives to speak with Nathan. The doctor watches Nathan while he puts sugar in his coffee; he is shocked by the amount of sugar the lawyer uses, so he warns him about possible health risks, something that is dismissed. The nature of Dr. Kay's visit is not immediately known, but the effect of his visit will linger in Nathan's mind and it will disturb him deeply. It is obvious Dr. Kay has come as some sort of messenger to warn about an impending doom, which is hard to understand.
Nathan's life will be greatly transformed as he learns more about Dr. Kay's message. He is shocked when the doctor asks him to accompany to watch a horrible scene in a subway station. Kay also tells him about a lady who Nathan used to know and her impending demise. Dr. Kay also points to other matters that must be seen to in Nathan's own life, like the strange relationship between Nathan and Claire, his former wife. We get to know about the personal tragedy in their life and finally Nathan is told about why he has been chosen by Dr. Kay in what will be his own mission in life.
"Afterwards" is not an easy film to grasp, yet there are rewards for the viewer that pays close attention to what really is underneath of what surfaces on the screen. Directed by Gilles Bourdos, and based on a novel "Et apres", which we never read, with Mr. Bourdos and Michel Spinosa's adaptation of the original material. The film is gorgeously photographed by Pin Bing Lee with an original musical score by Alexandre Desplat, a man with an excellent taste in whatever project he decides to undertake. The film was shot in different locales going from Quebec, to Manhattan to New Mexico.
Romain Duris, a versatile French actor, is at the center of the film playing Nathan. In his first assignment for an English language movie, this amazing actor shows why he is one of the most interesting personalities working today. John Malkovich appears as Dr. Kay, the enigmatic man with a mission. Canadian beauty Evangeline Lilly is fine as Claire.
When somebody makes a movie about death which suggests survival and features a medical specialist in a lead, you expect something serious. But this film's purported profundity is only mock-profundity, and no deep thought has gone into this at all. It is just a 'deathsploitation film'. After all, everybody is interested in death, just as they are interested in sex, so why not exploit the genre? You offer the audience a little hope on a platter, cover heavily with a dark and mysterious sauce, and serve. Somebody thought of getting John Malkovich to look eerie and as if he were possessed of arcane knowledge. That was supposed to get everybody going. Malkovich is always good, but he does need a bit of direction now and then, if only to know which way to look and why. But this film is chiefly ruined by the French actor Romain Duris, who plays Nathan, the central character. The reason why he ruins it is that he has two speech impediments as an actor. First of all, his accent is so unreasonably thick and impenetrable that with the best will in the world, one cannot make out much of what he is supposed to be saying in English. (Some serious speech coaching could have cured this!) But even worse than that is his infuriating habit of speaking all of his lines in a deathly whisper. This means that about half of his lines are frankly inaudible, no matter what the sound man tries to do to enhance them. This affectation has spread like a virus amongst certain vain male actors, who all genuinely believe that if they lower their voices to the point where you have to lean forward and strain to hear them at all, they are so much sexier and more fascinating. ('It sucks them in,' I have heard some of them say about the audiences who cannot hear them properly.) Just because Marlon Brando got away with it does not mean that anybody else can. In any case, with Brando it was not an affectation. Having met and talked with him, I can assure everybody that he had an astonishingly weak voice and did not talk like that just to call attention to himself, as so many actors imagine. I have stood right next to him and had to lean forward to strain to hear him despite the fact that he was trying earnestly to make himself understood. (We were discussing the American Indians, a mutual passion we had.) So when people like Duris think they are being Brando, they have got it all wrong! Therefore, however good or bad the film was to be, casting an unrestrained whisperer in the lead automatically condemned this film to failure. A film in which the lead actor cannot be heard might as well not be made. John Malkovich has never made the mistake of failing to articulate every word he has ever spoken in a film, as he is a serious professional. Duris should have his vain little beard shaved off in public, made to recant, and then be publicly spanked by his mother as a bad, bad boy. After all, somebody had to invest money in this thing, and he ruined it. The film is based upon a novel by Guillaume Musso entitled 'Et Après ..' Who knows whether it was good or not? The director co-scripted the film. He is Gilles Bourdos. I have not seen his two previous features. But I should say that his script was unfocused and ineffective and he failed to control Duris, so he struck out, despite the fact that there is nothing particularly wrong with his direction in general. This was a French production made in English in America. There really should be many more of those, and every time one fails like this, it sets back all the others.
throughout the entire movie romain duris sounds like he has throat
cancer when speaking (and what's with those shirts & slacks in every
john malkovich looks like john malkovich wearing a john malkovich putty mask!
the plot just keeps meandering from one location to the next with always the same message. and the deaths of others actually becomes comical because each one is so expected! just pure nonsense considering the 'message' dr kay brings! and the message is something everybody already knows.
how i sat through 104 minutes of this often incoherent mess, i do not know. the opening scene of the lake, children at play, then tragic accident is the only truly powerful and irresistible part of the movie.
good luck if you choose to watch this piece of mess!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is my first review on IMDb and while I am a serious movie fan, I
definitely do not consider myself a movie critic...I mostly judge
movies on how I like them and why... So consider the following an
account of my liking rather than something you would expect in the
I have read many reviews on IMDb and was rather amazed that there are (so far) only two reviews available on this motion picture. In my opinion "Afterwards" is an excellent movie, which is why I decided to add a third review here...
--------- *SPOILER ALERT*----------
"Afterwards" is the story of successful New York lawyer Nathan (played by Romain Duris) who through the acquaintance of Dr. Kay (John Malkovich) learns of and about his role as a messenger (of death). A messenger can see when other people are about to die unexpectedly through sickness or unnatural causes. He or she then ought to enter these peoples' lives in a way such that they may die in peace with themselves and their loved ones. The price for being a messenger is such that the messenger him- or herself has lost or will lose the person closest to him or her - in the case of Nathan it is his (ex-)wife with whom he reconnects throughout the movie.
--------- *SPOILER ALERT END*----------
The movie is slowly paced and in spite of what has been written in one of the other reviews not confusing at all. The plot is rather straightforward and only occasional flashbacks into Nathan's life take the viewer on a little detour story-wise.
In my opinion "Afterwards" features the best acting of John Malkovich since "Being John Malkovich" and again au contraire to what has been said in one of the earlier reviews a more than solid performance by Romain Duris. Personally I loved his subdued portrayal of Nathan. Evangeline Lilly in the supporting role of his wife is very relatable, but not the center of attention in this picture.
All in all I do think this movie is not what you would normally call highly entertaining or thought-provoking. However, while one can always argue about the story (basically it says "carpe diem"), it is very moving and may take the viewer (certainly me at least) on a journey of emotions that takes you out of your daily life and lets you question your own priorities and ways doing things - of living fully, if not happily.
As a closing remark I also want to congratulate Alexandre Desplat on a very fine soundtrack. It certainly does not compare the likes of Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, etc in terms of force and presence. But for those who appreciate a fine and delicate soundtrack I think it will work even as stand-alone (I bought it). In any case it finely supports the characters and the emotions they experience in this tale about life and death - and love.
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