A young woman approaches the microphone in a small room. Aiming to be heard loud and clear, she begins to speak, desperate to find her place in the wake of a relationship that has ended.
But as she speaks, she stumbles onto something even greater: the speech of her life, and a manifesto for living.
Writer-director Boris Seewald’s short drama — co written with Philip Moore — isn’t a traditional narrative in a storytelling sense, though it does examine in great depth and intimacy the effect of a romantic breakup on one young woman.
Instead, it’s almost a cinematic poem, in the form of a monologue — but one imagined as filtered through the style of Wes Anderson or Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Beautifully expressive camerawork adds a sense of dynamism, along with the richly saturated colors and dramatic lighting that characterizes the cinematography. Though the focus may be tight on the film’s central performer and her thoughts, the visuals add mood and texture and heighten the emotional ups and downs, as does the powerful musical score, which is a pleasure to listen to all on its own.
The great pleasure of “Afterword” is its beautiful poetic stream of language, brought to life with a compelling performance by lead actor Marama Corlett. Essentially an imaginary speech addressed to her ex, Corlett’s character must find her voice in the aftermath of a relationship that has ended. She begins with detailing the mundane floating minutiae of her brain, with random facts, observations and “advice,” as if trying to sift through her anxious, swirling thoughts.
But the performance and language eventually deepens to something richly philosophical and emotional, and eventually the film becomes an imaginary conversation reckoning with the ending of the relationship and its impact.
In a sense, the film is about how we create meaning from emotional chaos, especially one created by the loss of love and intimacy. Told with great style and tremendous cinematic panache, “Afterword” becomes less a lament over lost love but a manifesto about connection, openness and the value of experience. Watching it becomes a powerful call of not be an “island” anymore, but a larger, active part of the world. As the film says, “We’re connected… we’re all connected.”