Tuesday, February 16, 2010


What would you do if you knew when you were going to die?  What if you knew when other people are going to die?  In Afterwards, Dr. Kay (John Malkovich) can see a flash of light around a person, which tells him when the person is going to die.  A skeptical Nathan (Romain Duris) slowly comes to believe Dr. Kay's claims, and becomes convinced that Dr. Kay has pursued him because Nathan's time has come. 

The DVD cover for Afterwards is misleading, maybe even deceptive.  It portrays Malkovich holding a smoking gun, and describes a "race against time," "filled with bone-chilling twists and turns" which "continues at a heart-pounding pace."  There is an intensity here, not the kind of edge of your seat intensity of a film filled with car chases and explosions, but the intensity of dealing with issues of life and death, the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse.

One of Dr. Kay's patients, a teen with a terminal disease, writes a letter shortly before his death.  "I know I'm going to die soon.  And I know I'm here to learn something. . . . In my head, I can't imagine that life comes to an end."  Afterwards does not give us any answers about the meaning of life, the meaning of death, and what hope or peril lies in death, but it asks the questions in a beautifully thoughtful way.  Like the fragile desert flowers Nathan's wife (Evangeline Lilly, Kate from Lost) studies, life can be fleeting.  We don't know when this life will pass; in the meantime, we can learn to treasure it and the people we love.

Bottom line, 3 1/2 stars.

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