the_here_after_photo_by_lava_films_and_zentropa_sweden

The Here After – DIFF review

If you haven’t already booked your tickets and marked off your schedules, then hurry up because you only have a few days left to enjoy this year’s carefully selected Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) picks. As an avid fan of DIFF, what I often forget is the fact that this is an international festival. While it endeavours to develop and support local cinema, it also showcases international films that many of us may never hear about if not for the festival.

So DIFF, I thank you for bringing The Here After onto our local screens. This Swedish gem was not only thought-provoking but leaves its imprint on you well after the viewing. Set in a small Swedish town, it captures the complexity and fragility of fear. The story revolves around a juvenile offender, who is released back into his skeptical community after serving his sentence. Little is known of his crime during the first half of the film and the audience is left to decipher the severity of the crime based on his tension-filled interactions.

The Here After is a sometimes overly ambitious film as it tries to delve into far too much subject matter in a short period of time while still trying to focus on character development. The young lead actor gives a solid performance as a young offender, who does not seem to have fully rehabilitated, but is trying very hard to step right back into his old life. He is supported by excellent performances from his screen father – a man caught between his own distrust of his son and his parental obligation – and his pre-pubescent brother, who is trying to create his own identity separate from his family’s deep issues.

The film ultimately opens up interesting debates on the judicial and penal systems as well as society’s willingness to give offenders second chances. It’s only flaw is that it wanted to draw on a multitude of significant subject matter at the same time including treatment of senior citizens in modern society, bullying, family support, retribution, guilt, grief and closure. Overall, this was a very worthwhile viewing with great cinematography, which only added to the grimness of the story. It leaves you questioning your core beliefs and sense of humanity.

To learn more about The Here After or one of the many other fascinating DIFF productions (including a few VR productions), visit www.durbanfilmfest.co.za




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