After We Leave, 2019.
Directed by Aleem Hossain
Starring Brian Silverman, Clay Wilcox, Anslem Richardson, Anita Leeman Torres, James Black, Naomi Salamon
A near future earth, ravaged by human abuse, offers people the chance to emigrate to off-planet habitats. When Jack (Brian Silverman) is awarded his couples travel VISA, he must navigate his past, as well as a crumbling society, in order to find his estranged wife.
Setting its narrative in the same portentous, near future landscape as Christopher Nolan’s Intestellar, After We Leave attempts its own small-scale version of the familial strife involved in escaping our dying planet. For a while it maintains an air of slow-burn intrigue, a quiet film, punctuated by small creative brushstrokes, very similar to Gareth Edwards breakout hit, Monsters, until it abandons the mystery in favour of a rather lackluster tale of small-town gangsters.
Directing from his own screenplay, Aleem Hossain keeps things wonderfully grounded. The effects are sparingly used and minimalist, with gadgets the kind of micro-technology that are already implemented today: small phones attached to the temple, voice changers which encrypt conversations. Even the more spectacular shots, such as the rockets silently launching into the sky, have an eerie, intimate quality to them.
Hossain keeps his story similarly small by focusing on the journey of a single man, and there’s an immediate investment to be found in Silverman’s weight -of-the-world character. Firstly because you want to know why he’s estranged from his wife, or for what reason everyone seems to be resentful towards him, and secondly due to the fact Silverman plays him with a sense of beat-down resignation that makes him easy to root for. It’s a low-key performance that works perfectly with the sombre nature of the film.
The rest of the characters aren’t quite as interesting, with their introduction coinciding with the weaker second half of the film, where the Memento-style journey of discovery is derailed by a ‘one-final-gig’ thread. We get a gangsters moll, a hammer wielding crime boss, and a few twists and turns that shake After We Leave from the meditative Sci-fi state it was in.
Although it does get a little bumpy along the way, you’re left with a resolution, albeit a divisive one, that provides Jack with a satisfying character arc. Throw in the climate change, socioeconomic warnings, and Aleem Hossain’s feature film debut remains a promising genre entry.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★
Matt Rodgers – Follow me on Twitter