Joanna Scanlan gives a superb performance in this intriguing film about an English widow whose life is shattered by the discovery that her seafaring husband had a secret life in France.
Scanlan’s Mary is a devout Muslim convert who had a long and happy marriage to Ahmed (Nasser Memarzia), until his sudden death from a heart attack in his armchair at home in Dover.
After the funeral she goes through his belongings and finds a French identity card with the photo and Calais address of a woman called Genevieve, and a string of texts from “G”.
Determined to solve the mystery, she heads for Calais.
As she crosses the Channel she imagines Dover’s white cliffs crumbling, like her belief in herself and her quiet loving marriage.
As she stands at the front door in Calais, plump, veiled and uncertain, the stylish Genevieve (Nathalie Richard) arrives and invites her in, mistaking her for a cleaner.
Mary seizes the opportunity to learn something about her husband’s relationship with Genevieve, who is frantically packing up the house before moving a few days later.
While they work, Genevieve chats breezily about her life with Ahmed. It is clear she has no idea he is dead.
Mary is shocked when a sulky teenage boy (Talid Ariss) appears. Who is his father?
This is an extraordinary film by English-Pakistani writer-director Aleem Khan, emphasising the mystery of people’s lives, how no one can fully know another person.
All the performances are excellent, but Scanlan is outstanding with her sensitive portrayal of a woman whose view of her world and her identity is collapsing around her.
After Love will be screened at UWA’s Somervillle Auditorium as part of the LotteryWest Perth Film Festival from Monday, February 21 to Sunday, February 27.
Watch the trailer…