Its 1:17 pm
About a week and a half ago I found a group on Facebook that I had been hoping to find for a while. It was a group dedicated to all things IFC Midnight and if ANYONE knows anything about me and film watching,its I am a hardcore IFC Films nut.
I shared a few of my past reviews in the group and then I asked if we could share a few regular IFC titles as well and of course the answer was a resounding “By all means”!!
This of course kickstarted the cheetah and I into watching “Love After Love” because we were in a IFC watching mode,so I grabbed the remote and the cheetah and headed to the couch…
Before I watched the film,I checked out the Special Features and saw that director Russell Harbaugh had included a short film called “Rolling On The Floor Laughing” which was very good in of itself at only 20 minutes long.
When I started watching “Love After Love” it only took me about 7 or 8 minutes to see he had taken his idea with his short and fleshed it out to a full length feature film. Once I figured that out,I re-started the film and went in eyes open.
The film starts with a brief scene between Suzanne (Andie McDowell) and her eldest son Nicholas (Chris O’Dowd) before we’re taken to a large party for Glenn (Gareth Williams). He is scheduled to go to New York but he falls ill after a stroke which leaves him comatose at home.
Suzanne does her best to take care of her husband while the sons seem pretty clueless and get in the way more then anything else. While Nicholas has come with his girlfriend Rebecca (Juliet Rylance),Chris (James Adomian) has arrived solo. Rebecca and Nicholas fight while Chris is revealed to being a alcoholic as he hasn’t found a way from either his father’s shadow or his older brother’s shadow as well. Nicholas is seen having an affair with Emillie as well.
Finally Glenn passes away and the fallout starts to happen. Harbaugh breaks up his stories into small and sometimes disjointed segments as we mostly follow Suzanne and Nicholas and how their lives are tossed all over the place. Nicholas lives in the family home and so when he breaks up with Rebecca,whom Suzanne really liked,and trots in Emillie,she is plainly unhappy with him.
Suzanne slowly begins to step out on a few dates but has to deal with a tremendous amount of guilt,she even comments that she feels she is having an affair.
As Suzanne’s confidence begins to mount,Nicholas’s begins to falter,he is supposed to step up and lead the family but he can’t out of his own self-destructive habits and Chris is trying to find his own voice by trying stand-up comedy (and rather poorly at that).
Suzanne dates a few men and even is intimate with a few,she loses the “what I have done” after she meets a gentleman named Michael who she invites over along with Michael’s teen son.
The dinner goes very badly with Nicholas getting drunk and acting like a complete asshole which results in a break between mother and son. Nicholas,after cheating on Emillie,attempts to woo back Rebecca with the expected results,she has clearly moved on and beyond Nicholas while he stumbles arounds.
By the time the year has come around at another funeral,we see that Suzanne is still making slow and steady progress with one of those steps having Nicholas move out.
The two brothers are still their own worst enemies and we leave them as we found them,floundering…….
This is a very interesting movie…..as a someone who could relate in some places like being a caregiver while the rest of the family stood around and just stared,I admired Suzanne right off the mark. I know Andie McDowell is for some reason hard for audiences to like but I have yet watched any of her performances that I haven’t liked.
Her portrayal of Suzanne was spot on,the determination to help her husband,the sadness of not only dealing with his death but also not being able to count on any help from her adult sons and then realizing she is okay with getting on with her life the best way she can.
Chris O’Dowd is a fine actor and Harbaugh and fellow screenwriter Eric Mendelsohn’s script makes his Nicholas as ugly and unlikable as anyone I have seen lately. Self-centered and amoral,he cares nothing for anyone but himself. His outburst at Michael isn’t an overprotective son looking out for his mom but a petty and jealous immature boy who never grew up fully. It explains why he has never truly had love in his life and most likely never will. O’Dowd gives Nicholas a real depth in his flawed character,you find yourself hoping that maybe,just maybe…..
The rest of the cast,led by Juliet Rylance is also quite good. While we see that Suzanne really likes Rebecca,we never really see why she does because McDowell and Rylance don’t really have key scenes together which would have helped explained why Suzanne bonded with her.
The one thing I hated about “Love After Love” was the overly loud and disjointed jazz pieces thrust throughout the movie. Which is a shame because I like David Shire who composed the score and is generally very good. But this was just awful and jarring…maybe it was done to help see how fractured Suzanne,Nicholas and Chris’s lives were but you didn’t to use a sledge hammer,the script and performances did it well enough,a little score in a thoughtful film goes a long way.
I enjoyed how Harbaugh shot his film…not a smooth and ordered sense but sharp angles and clipped scenes…looking at his characters from a distance,it gave “Love After Love” an almost documentary feel in many spots.
Overall,this was a very good film and shows again what makes IFC Films so much better then anyone else. The cheetah and I gave it a thumbs/paw straight up….
“Love After Love” would be rated “R” and has a run time of 93 minutes and includes the short film I mentioned above. You can order a copy of this film at IFC Films.