After Love – REVIEW

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Few can be unfamiliar with the feelings after love when a relationship has broken up. One of our writers decided that getting a pet dog might help him get over the relationship until we pointed out that what it really said about him was that rather than have another relationship he’d rather pick up dog poo. For Mary (Joanna Scanlan)what she finds after love is far different. A white English woman who converted to Islam and changed her name to Fatima after marrying Ahmed is content with her life returning home with her husband one afternoon and as she prepares food in the kitchen he is glimpsed in the background singing along to a song. It’s an image of contentment until he unexpectedly dies.

After Love - after her husband dies a Muslim convert uncovers a secret!

Yet the aftermath reveals that all is not as it seems. That she is alone at the wake with only his family mourning and no sign of her own suggests that perhaps she has been shunned since converting. But she soon finds that her marriage was something of a sham. Set in Dover Mary has waved him off to work as he catches the ferry to France yet unknown to her his part of the marriage is a world away from hers. Clearing out his belongings she finds that he has been having an affair with a woman Genevieve (Nathalie Richard) in France.  Determined to front her out Mary goes to France arriving on Nathalie’s doorstep ready to see the woman who was carrying on with her husband.  In what is something of an indy art house film there is a moment of comedy of errors as Nathalie also arrives home mistaking Mary for a new housecleaner helping her to move out of the house in a few days and Mary goes along with it.

For many what might be an expected barrage of fury, rage, recriminations is contained with Mary wanting to covertly find out about the secret life her husband led which includes son Solomon that he has fathered and who himself has his own secret. Ultimately and inevitably it there will be the explosive revelation to Nathalie about who Mary actually is. Until then Mary gets to know Nathalie and especially her son, a son that presumably she could never provide to her husband, it’s an unexpected relationship that develops between all three until secrets must finally be revealed.

After Love - after her husband dies a Muslim convert uncovers a secret!

Thus is the feature film debut of BAFTA award winning director Aleem Khan and it is a powerful story handled sensitively notably in one scene with Scanlan addresses her own body image. That Mary is able to contain her anger and betrayal also contrasts with moments when grief overtakes her when she finds her husband’s shirts that Nathalie wants bagged up for the charity shop. Though After Love is ultimately a three hander it’s really Scanlan’s film, one of the Britain’s greatest actors, who  has taken a number of challenging roles in her career – her turn in the under rated Pin Cushion is  excellent – and After Love sees her play Mary as admirably restrained in circumstances that many would understandably be furious about.

We spoke to writer-director Aleem Kahn about the issues he had making the film……

Here’s the After Love trailer……

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