THREE STARS In Hamburg, 1946, the wife of a British officer falls for a German man.
Keira Knightly, Alexander Skarsgård
PERIOD ROMANTIC DRAMA #THEAFTERMATH
In the immediate wake of World War 2, a British officer takes his wife to live in occupied Hamburg. He’s been stationed there to command the local battalion and has been given a handsome house in which to live. No matter that the former owner and his daughter are still living there, the mansion is big enough for the four of them. Well, physically at least. It proves incapable of housing the heightened emotions that all of them are trying to control. Matters are made more difficult by the immediate attraction felt between war-widower Herr Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård) and the recently childless and deeply unhappy Mrs Morgan (Kiera Knightly).
So starts this extremely handsome if extremely routine costume melodrama by James Kent (best known for TV’s Marchlands and Inside Men). It’s by-the-numbers story may fail to ignite either heart or head, but then, nor does it offend. And there’s a visual bonus in the outstanding range of knitwear on show, probably the most impressive collection seen this side of London Fashion Week. In fact, the delicious cinematography and set design of THE AFTERMATH is its strongest asset and one that pays dividends. It’s almost enough to wallow in the . Almost, but not quite.
For as a historical romance, it doesn’t measure up on either count. It’s contextually interesting - the bewilderment experienced by Germans still blinking after their loss and now forced to share their country with those who were, mere weeks ago, the enemy, is palpable. But the narrative drive in which a refined British woman would succumb to a German man (even one as agreeably refined as Skarsgård) feels contrived, especially when his rebellious teenage daughter gives their love affair a tick of approval. At least the cuckolded Mr Morgan (Jason Clarke) finds time to be disagreeable, until he isn’t.
THE AFTERMATH raises expectation in no small part because of the extraordinary times in which the story is set. You’re forgiven for wanting a more interesting, more challenging experience than the merely serviceable one that Kent delivers. But as cardigan-wrapped romantic dramas go, it does knit together perfectly well.