Gael Morel has made a number of interesting films about French young men and their relationships amongst themselves and with their families. A frequent collaborator has been Christophe Honore (Ma Mere, Dans Paris, Chansons d'Amour). Honore's films tend to have a great deal of dialogue with lots of abstract reflections on life and love. When he collaborates with Morel, the characters and plot drive the film rather than the reflections. This makes them more interesting and accessible.
The plot of Apres Lui is quite straightforward. We are introduced to a young man and his best friend. They go to a party and one is killed in a car accident while the other was driving. The mother of the dead man is distraught at the death of her son but is outwardly controlled while the grief affects her heart and her mind. She becomes more and more obsessed by his death and tries to keep his memory alive by focusing her attention on the driver, keeping alive the memories through him.
This has repercussions on her ex-husband, especially in her inviting the friend to the funeral, on her expectant daughter whom she ignores. The young man's parents also become disturbed.
Catherine Deneuve (in her 99th film) gives a powerful performance as the mother, on screen for most of the film. One can appreciate her grief and how it has taken possession of her but we, like her family and friends, become more and more exasperated with her behaviour. In a sense, the film suddenly stops - but it leaves the audience thinking about what could possibly happen after this.
Palace Out March 27
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.