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"Aftermath," originally titled "Poklosie," directed by Wladyslaw Pasikowski, is listed as being a film about a Polish man who returns home after the death of his father and unearths a secret about the now-deceased Jewish residents of his village. But the plot is far more complicated. Interwoven like an intricate puzzle, this story in Polish with English subtitles is magnificently told.
From the gritty cinematography to the foreboding music, this film keeps you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning. It begins with a man traveling from Chicago to Poland, but we do not know why, but we get the feeling something is amiss. Little by little, more is revealed. He is back in Poland, where he has not been for 20 years, to visit his brother. But he finds his sibling to be in dire circumstances over a choice he has made and the whole town is up in arms. He begins to see there is more to the story and wonders what the neighbors are hiding.
The journey to the truth is harrowing with dangers at every turn. The final discovery is shocking and heartbreaking. This piece grabs you in the beginning and by the end it has a firm holding grip leaving you almost breathless, not wanting to turn away for a moment for fear of missing something, a clue to the answer. The stomach churning conclusion will keep you thinking long after.
Maciej Stuhr and Ireneusz Czop brilliantly portray the brothers. Everyone in the cast does a wonderful job telling this tale, which is surprisingly based on a true story. I think this film is best watched without knowing the back story ... to add more intrigue to the twist ending. Just be aware, saying there is blatant anti-semitism is putting it mildly, but it is an essential part of the story.
"Aftermath" opens Jan. 31 at the following theaters: Cosford Cinema/ Miami, Last Picture Show in Tamarac, Cinema Paradiso--in Ft. Lauderdale & in Hollywood, Living Room Theater, Movies of Delray, Movies of Lake Worth and the Mos Art Theater.
It was showcased at the Miami Jewish Film Festival on Jan. 28.