AFTER LOVE (L'Economie du couple)


Belgium director Joachim Lafosse's latest film is a marvelous examination of what happens after the breakdown of a marriage if the couple is forced to cohabit because one of them can't afford to move out.


This is the situation with Boris (Cedric Kahn) and Marie (Berenice Bego) who share a home with their twin daughters Jade and Margaux (Jade and Margaux Soentjens) even though their marriage has degenerated into a verbal and emotional war.


Their marriage is done - we are never told if there was an act of infidelity or if after fifteen years they just grew apart - but there is no discernible love left; especially on the part of Marie. She hates Boris and she makes it clear during a heartfelt soliloquy with some of her closest remaining friends. She even questions how she could ever have loved him.

Boris still has feelings for her, however he knows it's over and he just wants half of the value of the home to leave - about 200 euros. The real problem is that Boris can't justify wanting so much when he [apparently] has never held a job nor contributed any financial help to the home. Moreover, he owes some hoods money...10,000 euros. Again, we don't know why.


What is made very clear that each has a profound devotion to the twins who are perfectly happy with the current living situation with their father going out duringthe day and forbidden to return until after eight o'clock. There is a mention that he is an architect but nothing to show for it aside from some work he did on the home.


For the first forty-five minutes of this 100-minute film is some of the most believable marital argument ever film. Marie is furious with the situation but seems helpless with her own humanity to evict Boris. She feels everyone, including her own mother (Marthe Keller - "Hereafter", "Marathon Man") , are conspiring against her in favor of Boris. Her mother (Marthe Keller) has offered to pay Boris to stay as a handyman, to keep the house in order. It turns out she is the source of the money to buy the home in the first place.


Lafosse failed to get any more than a generic sense of sadness from the twins which may have been due to the actresses youth, but that was more than compensated by Bejo.


You might remember Bejo from her Oscar nominated performance in "The Artist" (2011). She and Kahn develop a terrific toxic screen chemistry.


"After Love" (L'Economie du couple) is one of the best depictions of a marriage that has no hope, a modern day "Kramer vs Kramer" but with the couple having to co-exist until their economies improve.   -- GEOFF BURTON