The camera can’t get enough of Andie MacDowell.
We can imagine that the film, Love After Love, directed by Russell Harbaugh, was conceived and pitched as a vehicle for us to indulge our gaze on her still lovely features.
She plays Suzanne, an agonized wife and mother who is about to lose her husband to throat cancer. Into this setup steps her “good” son Nicholas, played by Chris O’Dowd, the lovable cop in “Bridesmaids”.
That previous outing does nothing to prepares us for the ferocious performance O’Dowd gives as Nicholas, an alternately charming and bullying egomaniacal editor, who cheats on his girlfriend, Rebecca (Juliet Rylance) with his eventual wife Emilie (Drew Hemingway) and attacks his often inebriated brother (James Adomian), and mother following an after meal toast to Suzanne’s final boyfriend, Michael.
One mark of a good actor is a willingness to take on the role of a character that is unlikable or worse. O’Dowd dives in with seeming relish and about hijacks the movie, leaving the viewer wondering “Where is this storm coming from and what’s the next one?”
Despite the turmoil stirred up for the grieving family members, the film has a lingering pace and jazzy score that draws us in.
The numerous and varied sex scenes are shot casually, almost discreetly, as if we, surprised, had uncovered the lovers by accident.
In one, we see Suzanne cuddling and whispering with Michael, played by Matt Salinger, the son of the late author J.D. Salinger. This episode transitions to an entrancing dream sequence in which she wanders alone, perplexed and fascinated on a dance floor surrounded by oblivious, swirling couples. Should she join, she seems to ask and we can read it all on her face. Dr. Freud would have a field day.
The story pierces us, saying our lives are nothing if not a yearning to love and be loved: A message that never grows old.
Love After Love shows until May 16th.