Writer-director Aleem Khan’s feature debut focuses on Mary (Joanna Scanlan), a woman who discovers that her husband has a secret life just days after his sudden and unexpected death. She stares across the English Channel to Calais, where it seems that he had another world completely separate from hers. 

Mary’s world is literally falling apart around her – the white cliffs of Dover are crashing down and ceilings are cracking above her head. This is a quiet yet undeniably powerful film, with Khan expertly proving that less is definitely more. Dialogue is sparse, he instead relies on Scanlan’s powerful silence. Her expressions alone speak a thousand words, and when she does speak, you’ll often find yourself holding your breath. There are moments when you want to scream at her for not just speaking out about her husband’s lies, but this is a woman in the depths of grief.

After Love is a very intimate look at grief and the sad everydayness of it all. Grief here is accidentally making two cups of tea, hiding from uninvited visitors, and ignoring the phone. It’s Mary’s quiet, solitary prayers, sometimes whispered through tears. 

It’s important to point out that the fact that Mary is a white woman who converted to Islam decades before, in order to marry her husband, is just a beautiful minor part of this film. It’s never made a thing, it’s just who she is. When she’s questioned by white non-Muslims about her religion, she simply replies that she’s now been Muslim for longer than she wasn’t. As the film progresses, it’s clear that this is Mary’s true identity, and very separate from her husband’s.

After Love is a quiet little gut punch that sneaks up on you unannounced. Scanlan delivers a masterclass in understated grief, and Khan is certainly one to watch.

RATING: 4/5


INFORMATION

CAST: Joanna Scanlan, Nasser Memarzia, Nathalie Richard

DIRECTOR: Aleem Khan

WRITER: Aleem Khan

SYNOPSIS: Set in the port town of Dover, Mary Hussain suddenly finds herself a widow following the unexpected death of her husband. A day after the burial, she discovers he has a secret just twenty-one miles across the English Channel in Calais.

[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]