If there was a subtitle to Russell Harbaugh’s thought-provoking debut drama it could easily be ‘men behaving badly’. This is an unsentimental tale about how a family copes after the death of one of its members as they all react differently with dealing with their grief, and the men especially being unable to reconcile themselves and their own unhappiness.
Glen (Gareth Williams) a writer is dying from unspecified illness, and the movie opens with an extended family lunch party in what will turn out to be his last hurrah before his health rapidly decline. His wife Suzanne (Andie MacDowell), very much the matriarch, insists that her two adult sons pitch in and help care for their father. Nick (Chris O’Dowd) is vastly unhappy in his marriage to Rebecca (Juliet Rylance) who is also his co-worker at a publishing company, whilst his younger sibling Chris (James Adomian) who has aspirations to be a writer, simply has trouble witnessing his father’s demise.
Fast forward a few months after their father has died and newly divorced Nick is celebrating his engagement to much younger Emilie (Dree Hemingway) at a party where Chris cannot keep it together anymore and gets very drunk and behaves very badly.
Nick, however, is soon having second regrets about letting Rebecca go, but she is unmoved by his forceful demands and is determined not to take him back. Suzanne was dating again, and after a false start with one of her work colleagues found Michael, an easygoing man her age. She is the now the only one in the family who has been able to move beyond her grief and find happiness again.
Love after Love is one of those very unshowy dramas whose impact creeps up on you catching you totally unaware. Its subtlety is in the writing (by Harborough and Eric Mendelsohn) but there are some superb finely nuanced performances, particularly from MacDowell and O’Dowd, that make this story of adjustment so compelling to watch.