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aka - Apres Lui
France 2007
Directed by
Gael Morel
92 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

After Him

Losing a child is every parent’s nightmare and of course for some it does happen. Lyon bookshop owner, Camille (Catherine Deneuve) is devastated when her 20-year-old son Mathieu (Adrien Jolivet) is killed in a car crash. Après Lui is essentially a portrait of Camille’s desperate attempt to keep her son alive, not in memory but through Franck (Thomas Dumerchez), Mathieu's best friend and the driver of the car in which he was killed. As written by director Morel with Christophe Honoré. Camille is an aloof, pragmatic woman not given to articulating her feelings and the script is perhaps a little too focussed on tracking Camille’s dysfunctional behaviour rather than probing its emotional ramifications. Here the opening of the film is the most moving as it powerfully shows the instantaneous transformation of Camille’s life with Deneuve remarkable in conveying her character’s grief.

From then on the film concerns itself with Camille’s obsession with Franck and whilst this obviously is her way of dealing with her pain it is strangely reticent narrative, with Camille rebuffing her family and the two main characters really only connecting en passant. Morel suggests an impending sexual catharsis that never manifests and finishes with an irresolute ending which keeps this suspicion alive. Of course such a suggestion is for a number of reasons a difficult area to deal with but given the diligence with which Camille’s season in Hell has been displayed, the failure to pursue it might well be criticized as short-changing the viewer.

Deneuve bravely goes where few actresses once famous for their looks fear to tread and allows Morel’s camera to spend much time in close up on her face in a performance that in many ways deserves to be compared to her breakthrough role in Polanski’s Repulsion over 40 years ago.




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