After Him (Après lui) (2007)
|Year Of Production||2007|
|Running Time||87:59 (Case: 92)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Gaël Morel|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Unknown||No Audio Data available for this title|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||?|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
After Him (Apres Lui) is a 2007 French film from young director, Gael Morel. It had a limited release on DVD in 2008 and now appears as one of the selections in the Modern French Cinema: Drama box set.
The film opens with a scene that could have been cribbed from any Almodovar film - two young men dressed in ladies clothing frolic in a bedroom. All is not as it seems, however, as the pair, Franck (Thomas Dumerchez) and Mathieu (Adrien Jolivet), are best mates off to a stag party. Mathieu's mother Camille (Catherine Deneuve) helps the boys get their makeup just right. The scene could be set for a frothy French comedy.
However, later that night Camille receives that dreaded call. Mathieu has been killed in a traffic accident when Franck lost control of a car hitting a tree. Camille, her ex-husband Francois (Guy Marshand) and other daughter Laure (Elodie Bouchez) descend into the depths of grief as they try to cope with the loss of the beloved Mathieu. Franck is ostracised for his role in the death but Camille insists on bringing him to the wake much to the disbelief of family and friends.
In the wake of unimaginable sadness Camille slowly begins to put her life back together. She visits and revisits the scene of the accident both caressing and beating the tree that ended her sons life. Rather than seeking consolation from her daughter or ex-husband she starts taking an obsessive interest in Franck. Despite the back cover of the DVD which features Camille brushing the face of a semi-naked Franck, the obsession is not sexual. She is driven to create in him the perfect life that Mathieu was unable to live.
There are weighty themes and After Him remains defiantly a niche film. Perennial French favourite Catherine Deneuve returns to the psycho-drama of Repulsion (sans rabbit head!) with perhaps her best performance since Indochine. At 65 she may not be the dazzling beauty of her youth but she can still convey oceans of sadness with a mere glance.
Her obsession leads to some "hands over the eyes" moments as Camille not only gives Franck a job at her bookshop to keep him out of manual labour, but constantly watches over him. So trapped in her grief is Camille that she is unable to appreciate her own daughter and new granddaughter. Deneuve as always is the ice queen and although consumed by grief is utterly unreachable.
The script by Morel and Christopher Honore is tight and economical and the film is genuinely thrilling at times as we wonder what the poor lady will do next. Fans of the great French actress will no doubt wish to purchase the film. It is an interesting mediation on grief though a little hard going for its short running time.
After Him is presented on DVD at 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Information on the original aspect ratio of the film is scarce. I would have thought that it may have been shot on film and released in cinemas at an European widescreen 1.66:1 ratio.
In any event, the film receives 16x9 treatment. The resulting image is quite crisp and clear. Although the film does use mostly muted colours, there is a good depth of colour on offer and no evidence of bleeding.
Apart from a very small instance of aliasing the transfer to DVD is exceptional. There is a light grain to be observed but no defects in the print itself and no artefacts to be observed.
There are English subtitles which are clear and easy to read.
Director Morel uses a good deal of extreme close-ups and the clarity of those shots, as well as the skin tones, are perfect.
The sound for After Him is French Dolby Digital 5.1 running at 448Kb/s. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 track running at 224Kb/s on offer.
On first blush this chamber piece would not seem to lend itself to a surround soundtrack. However, the surround track does have some nice moments.
Whilst there is not much happening in the rear channels the soundtrack is well spaced across the front speakers. There is nice separation to the environmental sounds, such as the wind in the graveyard, the rain effects and the flames in a pivotal scene in the movie.
The sub-woofer is rarely engaged.
The dialogue can be heard quite clearly and appears to be in perfect audio sync.
Music in the film comes in two varieties. Firstly, there is the soundtrack consisting of piano and strings which is reflective of the sombre mood of the piece. Secondly, there is the music which reminds Camille of Mathieu, predominantly folky stuff.
A key element in the film is the music of French rocksters, The Tatianas, something like a French Libertines. The Tatianas appear in a live concert scene when the out-of-place Camille takes Franck to the show using her son's ticket.
Whilst on the subject of sound it is worth commenting that the Palace Films screen preceding the film is several ear splitting volume notches above the main film requiring quick manipulation of the receiver remote!
All in all a quality soundtrack for this small film.
|Surround Channel Use|
This DVD is something of a rarity. It is not available in Region 1. There is a Region 2 France edition available.
After Him is a star vehicle for French ice queen Catherine Deneuve and will be loved by fans of the great actress even if the subject matter is too dour to appeal to most.
The DVD transfer is excellent both in sound and visual terms.
The lack of any extras is a disappointment as there is certainly space on this DVD for more material.
|DVD||Pioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||Pioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer|