When Greipr, a young alcoholic is released from his rehabilitation he enter the world with a newly lit optimism. During rehab he met Lea, a single mother who is currently in a conflict with the social services regarding the custody of her daughter. Greipr tries to help Lea, together they start dreaming of a better life, but not all dreams come true.
On returning home to his father and younger brother after serving time in prison, teenager John is looking forward to starting new life again. However, members of the local community can't forgive him killing his ex-girlfriend. John's presence brings out the worst in everyone around him and a lynch-mob atmosphere slowly takes shape. Feeling abandoned by his former friends and the people he loves, John loses hope and the same aggression that previously sent him to prison starts building up again. Unable to leave the past behind, he decides to confront it.Written by
The moral dilemma this film is about, is excellently summed up by a small piece of conversation, in one of the first scenes. Teenager John enters a classroom, and several students start protesting and walking out. Teacher: 'Everybody has a right to a second chance'. Student: 'Everybody has a right to live'. For the attentive viewer, at that moment it becomes clear that John might have committed a murder. Later on, several scenes help understanding what exactly happened. The film essentially is about forgiving, or more precise about the willingness to forgive. The interesting thing is that the viewer at first is inclined to sympathize with John, who seems to be the victim of ruthless rejection by the community. But later on, it becomes clear that in reality John is a hopeless case, a socially inept person who makes things impossible for everyone around him. Above all for his father, who also has to cope with John's younger brother and his stubborn grandfather.
Apart from posing a moral dilemma, the film also has an interesting father-son dimension. It shows how difficult it can be for a parent to love a child that has severe psychological problems. At times, the film reminded me of Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy' and Lynne Ramsay's 'We Need To Talk About Kevin'. Both films explore the same theme, and 'The Here After' can easily stand next to them.
One very important element in the film is the camera work. It is done by Lukasz Zal, who also contributed to the stunning cinematography of the Polish film 'Ida'. The movie is mostly filmed by fixed cameras, and the image doesn't move even if the action sometimes shifts out of the camera frame. This gives the film something special, as if the awkward way the characters interact, is echoed by the immovable images.
By the way: I didn't quite understand the title 'The Here After', which I associate with life after death. Apparently, the original Swedish title 'Efterskalv' means 'Aftershock', for example in the context of an earthquake. It makes me wonder why the English title is so much different.
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