The Trilogy: After the Life

on October 06, 2002 by Tim Cogshell
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"After The Life," the third in Lucas Belvaux's trilogy (preceded by "On the Run" and "An Amazing Couple"), is the most complete of the three films. A drama, it follows the story of Pascal (Gilbert Melki), his wife Agnes (Dominique Blanc) and Agnes' best friend Cecile (Ornella Muti). Unbeknownst to Cecile, Agnes is a 20-year morphine addict, and Pascal uses his connections as a cop to keep her fixed. Though you wouldn't know it from the first film, this is an act of deepest love and compassion. But now Pascal is being blackmailed by a drug dealer who has cut off his supply of morphine for Agnes until he catches a prison escapee called Bruno (Lucas Belvaux). Bruno is the escaped anarchist from the first film, "On the Run," but his character is painted in a more empathic light here.

Meanwhile, Cecile has hired Pascal to follow her husband whom she believes is cheating. Cecile becomes a distraction for Pascal from his difficulties and he falls in love with her, leaving Agnes to find a fix on her own (an important event in "On the Run"), which is when she runs into Bruno.

"After the Life" works well on its own, but it makes the other two films better still by filling in their gaps and thus making the overall series a good deal more interesting. It completes what turns out to be an adroit series of films that explore the many facets of character and tone that simply can't be explored with a single narrative in a single genre. Starring Gilbert Melki, Dominique Blanc, Catherine Frot, Lucas Belvaux, Francois Morel and Ornella Muti. Directed and written by Lucas Belvaux. Produced by Patrick Sobelman and Diana Elbaum. A Magnolia release. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 124 min.

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