With the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the cinema and blockbuster movies, many cinephiles such as me wonder whether lower budget independent films could potentially swoop in and save the film industry from a total stand still. As this year’s London film festival displayed, there are loads outstanding low/mid budget indie films waiting to be released, featuring diverse perspectives that post COVID audiences may be open to watching. One such film I had the pleasure of watching was a British film unlike anything I’ve seen before, that film is Aleem Khan’s directorial debut, After Love.
The film tells the story of Mary Hussain, a white English woman who converted to Islam after she married her husband Ahmed. One tragic day, Ahmed unexpectedly dies, leaving Mary a widow. Ahmed is buried and Mary grieves heavily for her dearly departed as she clears through his possessions. Whilst clearing through Ahmed’s things, Mary is shocked to discover that Ahmed kept a big secret from her all his life. Unable to get her mind off this, Mary decides to cross the channel to France in search of answers.
After Love not only boasts an intriguing premise and an unconventional cultural perspective, Khan also backs this up with emotionally engaging characters, a riveting narrative structure and a delicate approach to its sensitive theme of grief. Khan takes a big narrative risk with After Love, as Mary’s actions could detach audience members from the film and be severely questioned, however the sensitive way in which Khan writes and directs Mary’s character, coupled with a truly heart breaking lead performance from Joanna Scanlan, make’s Mary unconventional, but ultimately endearing and thus making After Love an absorbing and insightful watch.
Overall, After Love is a risky film that pays off in a big way. With an intriguing cultural perspective, an intimate directorial approach and an excellent career best performance from Joanna Scanlan, After Love is an independent British film I urge all of you to seek out.
After Love shall be released in 2021 with a release date TBA