Love After Love is a family drama capturing an intimate portrayal of emotions while grieving.
Russell Harbaugh directs the autobiographical family drama from a script that was co-written with Eric Mendelsohn. The script makes for a compelling film that explores a family going through the grieving process following the death of patriarch Glenn (Gareth Williams). He was a husband to Suzanne (Andie MacDowell) and the father to both Nicholas (Chris O’Dowd) and Chris (James Adomian). Everyone has their own process to grieve and the family members respond in different ways.
Suzanne, like her late husband, serves on the faculty of a theater department at a small college. She ends up back at work way earlier than she should and it shows in her work. This is where MacDowell beautifully plays the emotional side that the role requires. She tries to start dating again when she meets Michael (Matt Sallinger). Older son Nicholas is having none of it. Nicholas, for what it’s worth, is on the outs with his girlfriend, Rebecca (Juliet Rylance). He later gets engaged to an actress, Emilie (Dree Hemingway), but he and his mom have to work out their issues. As for the younger son, Chris, he turns to alcohol and stand-up comedy as a way of working through the grief. It may not be the best way but hey, whatever works!
It’s a stellar feature directorial debut from Harbaugh. There are so many emotions running wild through this film and fittingly so. Not every family member is capable of responding to grief in the same way. Still, it’s the idea of dating someone else following the passing of a loved one that can lead to questions. Is it too early to date again? This is something that they are able to capture to great astonishment in the script by way of emotions such as sadness, anger, and honesty.
The power of the screenplay is what comes through in the acting. It isn’t the dialogue that matters here but how their emotions are shown on screen. This is why the film serves as an opportunity for actress Andie MacDowell to display one of the best performances of her career. There’s so much emotion in the complex role as a family matriarch and the veteran actress is absolutely perfect.
When all is said and done, all three family members are on their own arc through life. Even when the emotions run high in Love After Love, they are still family and that’s what counts the most.
DIRECTOR: Russell Harbaugh
SCREENWRITER: Russell Harbaugh & Eric Mendelsohn
CAST: Chris O’Dowd, Andie MacDowell, James Adomian, Juliet Rylance, Dree Hemingway, and Gareth Williams
Premiering at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, Sundance Selects opened Love After Love in select theaters and on demand on March 30, 2018.