After Love (L’Economie du Couple) , directed by Joachim Lafosse, stars Bérénice Bejo and Cédric Kahn as husband and wife who after 15 years of marriage attempt to split. However, until the husband is able to find and afford a place of his own the couple is forced to continue living together and figuring out how best to share their belongings.
Reluctant Roommates. The film follows Marie and Boris as they struggle to cohabitate with their two daughters. Marie has set strict rules for Boris to follow to provide each parent time with the children while remaining as separated as possible despite living in the same apartment. Arriving home after a certain time on certain days to allow Marie alone time with the kids, or leaving for the weekend to allow Boris his time, the couple does their best to live a divorced life while being forced to stay together. Marie’s insistence that Boris find somewhere else to live is met with out-of-work Boris’ request for an adequate share of the apartment’s value based on his renovation work which Marie refuses to acknowledge as an attribute in the calculated split.
The Actor’s Studio. Both actors do masterful work in every moment of every scene throughout. Whether the camera is on them both or while they’re alone, in conversation or complete silence, there’s an endless array of history, hurt, frustration, and exhaustion felt as these characters struggle through day to day. The performances are pure and honest, with every move and emotion feeling completely genuine. This is an intimate film that shows the intimacy of these individuals, and the audience is let into their world and placed right up beside them so there is nowhere to hide. And a place to hide is precisely what it seems these characters wish they had time and time again.
“I put in something you never could.” … “Love.” The intimacy of the film comes in large part to the way in which the camera presents to us. We stay in the apartment the entire film, moving from room to room in subtle and precise pans and follows that go unbroken and unnoticed for long periods of time. Entire evenings containing dinner, baths, and bedtime stories can be constructed in a single shot without drawing attention to itself. And when a cut occurs, it goes as unnoticed as any of the long takes before it. The entire piece is so perfectly structured in the physical space and in the editing room that everything melts together into a simple and real existence that the audience lives within as much as the characters do. It’s filmmaking at its finest.
“People used to mend things.” The story plays out like as these kinds of stories do, and there’s plenty of inspirations or likenesses that can be felt as things move along. What makes the story work is the characters always playing on fine lines without going too far in any direction. It’s difficult to fully understand one character’s disdain for another just as much as it is fully sympathizing with either character in the situation. These are real people, neither good nor bad, who are living a life and making decisions that led them to the moments we’re presented right now. They are people who are frustrated, confused, angry, hurt, lonely, and lost. And while some of these emotions may be caused by the other person other emotions may be remedied by the simple fact that the other person is still there.
What It’s Worth. This beautifully composed family drama asks to analyze what adds value to a home, both monetarily and otherwise and if relationships can still exist and be worthwhile after love is no longer in the picture. In situations like these, it’s easy to act towards and say what you want while truly being unsure deep within. By the film’s end we’re left just as unsure of what’s truly desired as the troubled couple, and like any good piece of art are forced to look at ourselves and the world around us with a slightly different view than the hours before.
An absolute film. Absorbing, emotional, and expertly expressed.
After Love opens theatrically on August 9th in New York (The Quad)
and on August 25th in Los Angeles (Laemmle Royal)
and San Francisco (4 Star Cinema) with a national release to follow.
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The film After Love is featured on Borrowing Tape's Best Films of 2016 list.