The Aftermath: What You Need To Know
Over the 70-odd years that have elapsed since the end of World War II there has been no shortage of films documenting the events and stories that transpired during the years of conflict, but there have been far fewer films dedicated to examining the years after the air raid sirens had sounded their last.
One such film, however, arrived in cinemas in march this year and takes a look at life for those involved in the rebuilding efforts that followed the war – not just in Britain or other allied countries, but also in Germany, where former allied soldiers and officers were often involved in reconstruction efforts.
Based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Rhidian Brook, The Aftermath also examines the tense and sometimes complex relationships between those formerly on either side of the war divide. The film arrives in stores on Monday (July 8th), here's everything you need to know...
Who's in it?
Keira Knightly stars alongside Alex Skarsgård, Brotherhood's Jason Clarke, Line of Duty star Martin Compston and Wolf Hall's Kate Phillips.
And who's directing?
James Kent, whose previous list of directorial credits includes 2014 feature film Testament of Youth and TV shows such as Inside Men and Marchlands.
What's the plot?
Set in 1946, the story revolves around British Army Colonel Lewis Morgan (Clarke) and his wife Rachael (Knightly), who are reunited in Hamburg, where Colonel Morgan has been stationed as part of the British Forces Germany, tasked with helping to rebuild the devastated city and combating the insurgent activities of a German resistance force known as Werwolf.
While stationed in Hamburg, Lewis and Rachael are living the house of German architect Stefan Lubert, which has been recently requisitioned by the British Army. Stefan and his daughter Freda are still in the process of packing their things in preparation for their move to one of the many labour camps where thousands of German citizens were interned as part of reparations to the Allies.
Despite Rachael's reunification with her husband, there is tension between the couple due to the death of their son Michael, who was killed as a result of German bombing during the Blitz. To make matters even more difficult, Lewis decides to allow Stefan and his daughter to stay in the attic of their house while they are there, a decision which Rachael is initially strongly opposed to.
However, Rachael and Stefan bond over their shared grief after Rachael discovers that Stefan's wife was killed in the bombing raids on Hamburg, and before long the pair begin having an affair. Stefan is subsequently accused of being involved with Werwolf activities, even though it's really his daughter's boyfriend who is working for the resistance group. When Rachael leaps to Stefan's defence, Lewis suspects here is more to their relationship and Rachael is faced with a tough decision about her future.
Does it deliver?
James Kent's film features some engaging performances from its impressive cast and the post-war setting certainly seems like an under-explored area for storytelling, but the love story that forms the centrepiece of the film unfolds with a tedious predictability which is likely to make The Aftermath more appealing to history buffs than anyone looking for a tale of post-war romance and reconciliation. If it's the latter that appeals, you could do a lot worse than turn you attention to Marcus H. Rosenmüller's recent film The Keeper instead.