After Love

Director: Joachim Lafosse.

Actors: Cedric Kahn, Marthe Keller, Berenice Bejo

Release Date: Friday 28th October 2016

Genre(s): Drama

Running time: 100 minutes

The marriage is over but Marie (Bejo) and Brois (Kahn) have yet to finalise the divorce and until then they are forced to occupy the same house, which she paid for and he renovated. He's sleeping in the study because he can't afford to move out and, as it transpires, refuses to unless he gets half the market price for their home. As they trade barbs across the breakfast table, their eight-year-old two twins – Jade and Margaux Soentjens – get caught in the crossfire, used by both parents to score points.

There has been a glut of marriage-on-the-rocks dramas of late with 5x2, Revolutionary Road, Blue Valentine, A Separation, The Squid and the Whale, Take This Waltz and Lafosse's own All My Children all getting into the nasty business of an unravelling marriage. While After Love doesn't descend to the horror of the latter's climax, Lafosse ensures the tension slowly builds.

Lafosse isn't forthcoming with the details as to what has brought the once-loving couple to this but hints abound. He owes a lot of cash to shady moneylenders (or gangsters – again, we aren't privy to the whys and wherefores) and there's a subtle class war going on (he resents that she's from money and he's always struggled) so it could be down to festering resentment. That she demands he doesn't text in her presence suggests an affair on his part or is it simply the click-click-click of his thumbs on the keys disturbing her reading. Who knows? What we do know is that Marie wants to keep their interactions to a minimum - in their first scene together he's literally half out of the frame – but there's a feeling he is willing to give the marriage another go.

But this lack of info doesn't frustrate as Lafosse’s observational style ensures the audience is dropped right into the room and right into the middle of the argument; at times we can feel like the sullen kids, eyes on the table, as the two go at it. The long scenes, like the excruciating dinner scene where Boris arrives home to find Marie entertaining their - now her – friends and long takes further enhance the realism. Keeping the scenes confined to the apartment, the camera trots after Marie and Boris as they move from room to room to create a real sense of claustrophobia.