"Aftermath" Movie Review: 4 Stars
by Kenneth Turan
"Aftermath" is a bombshell disguised as a thriller. Its devastating story involves Jews and the Holocaust, yet not a single Jewish character appears on screen. Instead there are only Poles, grappling to different degrees with a history that is as difficult as it is complex.
It was the excellent notion of writer-director
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"Aftermath" opens with the return to
A dour, contentious individual, he's been living in
The "they" turns out to refer to Jews, and Franek, in addition to everything else, is a reflexive anti-Semite, casually referring to Jews as "Yids" and grumbling about how difficult they make his economic life.
Franek has returned to an unnamed rural town to visit his brother, Jozek (
As surly as his brother, Jozek has angry gripes of his own, like the way Franek abandoned their parents to immigrate to the U.S. and didn't even return for their funerals. Though he won't say why, Jozek is also noticeably on edge: He keeps an ax near for protection and is not surprised when a rock gets thrown through his window late at night.
It doesn't take long, however, for Franek to find out what seems to be behind this. His brother has made it his mission to
collect the town's Jewish gravestones. They were uprooted when the Nazis destroyed the Jewish cemetery during the war and, as was not uncommon across
In a less complex work, this discovery might be the film's dramatic climax, but in "Aftermath" it is just the beginning of the story.
Gradually, and much against their will, the brothers find out more and more about their town's history, revealing secret after unthinkable secret.
One of the most effective of "Aftermath's" notions is to make the investigators not the classic righteous Gentiles of so many Holocaust movies but angry, dissatisfied, antisocial, even borderline anti-Semitic individuals drawn into a quest for the truth almost against their will.
No MPAA rating, Running time: 1:44
"Aftermath" Movie Trailer
As Franek and Jozek struggle to rebuild their relationship, they are drawn into a gothic tale of intrigue. The two brothers eventually uncover a dark secret that forces them to confront the history of their family and their hometown