On Friday night, I walked into the Roxy to see “The Aftermath” and left thanking myself that I was alone because I needed space to process (and cry) after such an intense film.
“The Aftermath” begins with Rachel Morgan’s (played by Keira Knightley) arrival in post-World War II Germany in 1946. Her husband and British colonel, Lewis Morgan (played by Jason Clarke), has been tasked to help rebuild the city. Together, the two enter their new house, a stately manor they will share with a German wid- ower, Stefan, and his daughter.
For the first hour of the movie, it’s dif- ficult not to take Rachel’s cold-hearted nature personally. She appears unmoved by the remains of the city and past lives. Rachel is completely unsympathetic to the family whose home she’d taken over, almost discriminating against them for being German.
Short flashbacks throughout the film, however, build up to the most beautiful scene of the movie. Rachel sits down to the piano that once belonged to Stefan’s wife. As “Clair De Lune” plays through the scene, Stefan’s daughter watches Rachel and gradually walks over to the piano to complete the duet. Tears fill Rachel’s eyes (and mine).
A flashback indicates Rachel and her husband had a son who died in an attack by the Germans at age 11. This was the first time she played piano since the death of her son, who she’d taught to play the instrument. Rachel’s previous disdain for the family begins to make more sense.
This scene was disturbing, gut-wrenching and produced exactly the intended response in me. As someone who has dealt with a fair share of loss and grief, it left me feeling like someone had reopened my own wounds.
I loved “The Aftermath,” but this is not a movie for everyone; I don’t even plan on watching it again. The depth of pain and grief portrayed was sincerely uncomfortable to witness, and there were very few moments of relief. If, however, you enjoy crying or simply seeing the ugly reality of death and the grief it instills in loved ones, on both a personal and grand scale, go watch this film.
“The Aftermath” is showing at the Roxy until April 25. Student tickets are $7.