Movie review: The Aftermath is well made but glib
On the surface, The Aftermath markets itself as a typical love triangle involving a lonely woman torn between her charisma-free husband and the dreamy lover.
However, what one may not expect going into this handsomely made period romance is how so much of it is actually a commentary about grief and anger, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Scratch beneath the exterior, and the forbidden affair ends up becoming a crucible that forces the three main characters to come to terms with their personal wartime losses and shared tragedies, traumas that have haunted them almost to emotional paralysis.
The Aftermath's overarching theme is the rebuilding of broken lives, a disintegrating marriage and a Hamburg in ruins, from "zero hour, where everything can start again".
But make no mistake, the film is also a female-skewed melodrama mostly from Rachael's point of view, with its fair share of contrivances.
Keira Knightley's performance is predictably intense. With gorgeous production values and set designs, The Aftermath could be a distant cousin of 2007's Atonement - down to the glorious gold silk evening gown she wears in the former that is almost cut from the same cloth as the iconic green dress she made famous in the latter.
Jason Clarke initially seems to be playing yet another cuckolded spouse (Serenity, All I See Is You, The Great Gatsby).
But his late-stage breakdown will change your mind, revealing hidden emotional depths that help make the finale more moving than it ought to be.
Irresistible as Alexander Skarsgard appears, he is the weakest link with the most thinly written character.
He is required to just stand around looking suave in his cable knit sweaters (or out of them), cast longing glances at Knightley and ravish her on the dining table.
Never once do you believe he is mourning his wife or that he makes for a convincing father of a troubled teen girl.
Equally glossed over is the aftermath of Hitler's fall, with violent, darker possibilities being hinted at with the introduction of the diehard Nazi movement, but never materialising.
Still, the outcome is a lush, perfectly functional diversion, one that values picking up the pieces over picking it all apart.