French pin-up Romain Duris does his 'moody' and 'damaged' schtick, but with strangely accented English, in this tale of life-after-near-death.

As a boy he miraculously survives a spectacular collision with a car. But death's undiscerning hand is never far away. Years later, Duris's Nathan is a New York lawyer who still possesses a worrying tremor in his hand. But, failing to seek medical attention, and blaming the condition on hypoglycaemia, he subsequently consumes a lot of sugar.

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This is when John Malkovich's Dr Kay turns up. Kay claims that Nathan is in trouble. He also reveals he sees a white aura around a person who is soon to die, and it's quickly apparent he sees the white aura around Nathan.

Somewhat aptly, Malkovich's performance floats in and out of the movie. He's either consciously acting ghostly, or he's on autopilot. It's hard to judge, especially as his character is sketched rather than written. However, it's a complete, controlled performance compared to Duris' efforts.

Duris emanates cool in the supermarket freezer aisle. And so he's spectacularly miscast here as a hotshot, yet otherwise unremarkable, lawyer. His cool lends the character an element that the writing does not suggest. He's out of place, and his performance is stilted. And let's not even start dissecting his accent or questioning whoever dressed him in horribly unflattering clothes. He stumbles through the film looking and acting like a confused scarecrow. For the guy who broke audience's hearts in The Beat that My Heart Skipped, it's a terrible shame.

The film itself is also equal parts awkward and ethereal. For all its rather beautiful cinematography and twinkly ambient mood music, the tone is consistently inconsistent. The movie delivers horror, beauty, drama and melancholy in a revolving tonal palette. Director Giles Bourdes creates a cinematic poetry that is mannered and, eventually, irritating. As technically accomplished as it might be, this is a ponderous and interminable experience.

A disappointment, if not disaster, on all levels, Afterwards is no English-language calling card for Duris. And John Malkovich all but disappears in this confused, over-egged meander.

Reviewed on: 05 Aug 2010
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Afterwards packshot
An attorney is haunted by his past.
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Director: Gilles Bourdos

Writer: Michel Spinosa, Gilles Bourdos, based on the novel by Guillaume Musso

Starring: Romain Duris, John Malkovich, Evangeline Lilly, Pascale Bussières, Sara Waisglass, Reece Thompson, Bruno Verdoni, Joan Gregson, Mark Camacho, Robin Wilcock, Edward Yankie, Carlo Mestroni, Glenda Braganza, Leni Parker, Henri Pardo

Year: 2008

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Germany, France, Canada


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