About After Love (2020 film)
he debut feature from English-Pakistani film-maker Aleem Khan is a tale of secrets and lies, a portrait of people caught between identities and cultures. At its heart is a constrained yet wonderfully expressive performance by the versatile Joanna Scanlan, best known to some for her comedic work in shows such as Getting On and The Thick of It, here offering a masterclass in the dramatic power of understatement.
Mary Hussain (Joanna Scanlan) and her husband Ahmed (Nasser Memarzia) return home one night only for Ahmed to unexpectedly die. After looking through Ahmed’s wallet sometime after his funeral, she notices a picture of a woman named Genevieve (Nathalie Richard) whom she has never heard of before. Probing further, she looks at Ahmed’s phone and sees multiple text messages he sent to the same woman, with the two of them suggestively discussing meeting up with each other.
Suspicious, Mary takes a ferry across the English Channel to Calais to find Genevieve. After meeting her, Genevieve mistakes Mary for a cleaning lady and invites her inside for work. Genevieve lives with her son Solomon (Talid Ariss), who she appears to be on uneasy terms with, and both of them plan to move away in a few days. They’re both unaware that Ahmed has died. Mary hides her true identity and poses as a cleaner so she can learn more information. While at her house, she notices multiple articles of Ahmed’s clothing. After walking in on a home movie tape with Genevieve, Ahmed, and Solomon, Mary realizes Genevieve and Solomon were Ahmed’s secret family for many years.
One day, Mary sneaks into Genevieve’s house to search for more information when Solomon suddenly arrives and sneaks another boy into his room. Mary looks into their room and sees them passionately kissing each other. While leaving, Solomon hears her and catches up to her outside. Mary tells Solomon she was in their house to get her bag and that she won’t tell Genevieve what Solomon did. The next day, Mary explains to Solomon that she and Ahmed used to keep their relationship a secret as well when they were younger. At first, they sent letters back and forth, but when Ahmed moved to Pakistan, he sent cassette tapes to Mary.