“Love After Love”: A Film Review

Posted: May 10th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema | 1 Comment »

It’s a coy beginning to Russell Harbaugh’s “Love After Love.”

Perched in a window alcove, coffee cup in hand, brow furrowed, yet posed like a Land’s End advert, is Suzanne, an ever radiant Andie McDowell.

She is in conversation with Nicholas, Chris O’Dowd.

The subject is happiness. The nature of their relationship is uncertain.

He mumbles something like, sure I’m happy but we’ve just had this tiff. She projects concern and parries.

The immediate wonder is the nature of their connection?

Which we find out as the scene ends.

Mother. Son. Though that vibe is uneasy.

Hmmmmmm. My immediate thought is how can these two be cast thusly? Is this some kind of miscalculation, like, say, “The Manchurian Candidate,” in which Angela Lansbury played Laurence Harvey’s manipulative mom, though she was only three years older than him?

But, a quick bit of research reveals it not to be so. McDowell, a resplendent beauty still, is 60. O’Dowd, age appropriate for the role, is 39.

This examination of grief and how that presence exacerbates family fissures is full of such uneasiness.

Nicholas’s father, Suzanne’s hubby, passes away early in the film, but not after the laborious reality of slow, agonizing death is presented.

Anguish and distress ensue.

Brother/son Chris (James Adomian) drinks, pees on the coats of mourners at the wake, tries to cope as a comdian, examining his situation in routines.

Nicholas flits from a wife to an inamorata then to another. Such is the gravity of O’Dowd’s portrayal, his usual impish presence is nowhere to be seen. The character is contentious, easily unlikeable.

Suzanne struggles to cope with the passing of her long time companion. She worries about her sons. She lashes out at work. She has a quickie with a co-worker, which brings more consternation. She eventually finds a new companion, whom her boys don’t cotton to.

A barrel of fun, this film is not.

But it is incisive and marvelously played. McDowell, generally given short shrift as an actor, is a wonder here, as a woman struggling.

No confrontation, regardless of how intense, is overwrought.

The cinematography gives nuance to the familial dysfunction.

There is little, if any, resolution. In my mind, a brilliant tactic.

“Love After Love” is not entertainment. It is stellar filmmaking.

— c d kaplan

One Comment on ““Love After Love”: A Film Review”

  1. 1 Jim McGovern said at 4:47 pm on May 10th, 2018:

    Well done, sir. McDowell is underrated, I think because she is indeed radiant. When she attended Derby, my bride insisted I come take a look at her!

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