"Lost in Grief"
What You Need To Know:
LOVE AFTER LOVE uses long takes, zooming in on the character’s face and resting there for a prolonged time to help the viewer grasp the character’s emotions. This choice is used so much it feels forced and unnatural. The movie is also comprised of too many long-winded scenes of people having dinner parties over music. The entire feature could easily be a short and probably would have been more effective. Finally, LOVE AFTER LOVE has a mixed pagan worldview with Romantic, moral and humanist elements. It also contains strong foul language, lewd scenes with explicit nudity, and heavy drinking.
LOVE AFTER LOVE stars Andie MacDowell of GROUNDHOG DAY as Suzanne, who falls into a pit of grief with her two sons when her beloved husband and their father becomes terminally ill.
This raw, independent movie opens up with a string of shots of the mother and her two sons caring for their loved one. They feed him, pull his pants down to help him to use the bathroom, wipe him, adjust his feeding tube, and sit with him while he sleeps the day away. The two sons, Nicholas and Chris, move into their childhood home with their mother to help care for their father during his last days on earth. Nicholas’s wife joins her husband to help care for his father, but she feels more like a burden. She doesn’t know how to help her husband cope with his grief.
During their time at the family house, the mother has a string of dinner parties, where everyone drinks heavy amounts of wine and eats delicious food to turn their father’s last days on earth into more of a celebration of life than a death to come. Various family friends visit. During one of these parties, Nicholas sneaks away to his car and fornicates with a younger single woman, while his wife is in the house cleaning up dishes from the dinner party.
Later, the father dies. After the funeral, the mother and her two sons fall into their own, destructive coping mechanisms. Nicholas, who cheated on his wife, ends up getting a divorce from her and proposes to the young, hippie woman he slept with before his father passed away. The sudden engagement sparks another string of dinner parties to celebrate, but it doesn’t feel right. The fiancée doesn’t want a wedding ring and prefers a unique pair of earrings. Nicholas caters to this pretty, young girl, although he’s clearly much better suited to his wife. During one dinner party, the older brother, Chris, who is always seen with a full glass of wine, gets so drunk he falls out of the chair, drunkenly eats half the dessert and urinates on the walls.
Suzanne, the main character in the story, becomes upset with her sons’ reckless behaviors, but she too has her own problems. She sleeps with a few different men, one being her co-worker and curses out a woman at work when she sees her wearing a belly-showing shirt she finds repulsive and trashy for a woman to wear. She drinks alone too.
Toward the end of the movie, Nicholas cheats on his fiancée, and they break up. He follows his first wife home from work one day and begs for her forgiveness, but she wants nothing to do with him. Time passes, and they end up going to coffee together where he confesses how sorry he is for his reckless behavior. She forgives him but doesn’t take him back.
The movie is tied together in the end through an uplifting, funny standup set by Chris. He talks about how crazy it is that people don’t get time off work after a death. Everybody just goes back to his or her lives. This beautiful monologue is the movie’s highlight.
LOVE AFTER LOVE is a deep examination into the pain that comes after a loved one dies, but the movie has major flaws. For example, the main characters have few redeeming qualities. This makes it hard for viewers to identify with them or have a desire to root for them to come out of their grieving period.
Also, LOVE AFTER LOVE uses long takes, zooming in on the character’s face and resting there for a prolonged time to help the viewer grasp the character’s internal emotions. This stylistic choice is used so much it feels forced and unnatural. The movie is also comprised of too many long-winded scenes of people having dinner parties over music. The entire feature could easily be a short and probably would have been more effective.
The movie’s first part contains some moral elements when Suzanne and her sons support and care for her husband during his last days on Earth. The family shows selfless compassion and love during their loved one’s illness. However, after he dies, a Romantic, humanist attitude takes place in the family. Suzanne and her sons want to be good, but their emotions overtake them, and they use alcohol and sex to cope with their pain. They deal with their pain without God or prayer and only through sheer will power. This gives the movie an unsatisfying mixed worldview. LOVE AFTER LOVE also contains strong foul language, lewd scenes with explicit nudity, and heavy drinking.