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Wednesday, May 1, 2019


The biggest puzzle about this risible post-war melodrama is how it ever got the green light. (Review: Patrick Compton - 4/10)

Perhaps there is a good movie buried somewhere in the events that populate this story, but director James Kent (Testament of Youth) certainly doesn’t find it. Instead, he delivers a swoony potboiler.

Perhaps this was his only option because the script by Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel, based on Rhidian Brook’s 2013 bestseller, adds up to a load of sentimental tosh.

World War 2 is just over and Hamburg is a large bombsite. As the rebuilding starts under the authority of the Allies, British officers have requisitioned German houses for their own use. Colonel Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke), however, has kindly allowed the owner of his grandiose mansion, architect Stephen Lubert, and his resentful daughter Freda (Flora Thiemann), to occupy the attic rather than have them carted off to a refugee camp.

When the Colonel's beautiful, German-hating wife Rachael (Keira Knightley) arrives, the temperature starts to heat up. As Rachael and Stephen lock eyes in mutual antagonism, the audience’s eyes will roll as they rightly anticipate a wild affair while her hubby is away on duty.

It’s particularly easy for love, or rather lust, to flower, because the soil is so fertile. The chronically reserved colonel and his wife have had a dead son to (inadequately) mourn, which has long caused their marriage to wilt, while the architect has a dead wife and a roving eye.

There have been fine novels – and films – about the aftermath of World War 2 and the strained relations between the victors and the vanquished, but this one reduces everything to soap suds which even respectable performances from Knightley, Clarke and Skarsgard can do little to rinse off.

The Aftermath opened in Durban on April 26. - Patrick Compton