After May (2012)

India Menuez and Lola Créton nude in After May (2012)

Late in After May (Après Mai or Something in the Air elsewhere) one of its teenage protagonists is informed that the assault charges that had loomed over these young wannabe-revolutionaries have been dropped. You see, in an ill-advised protest, these leftist French students (in tumultuous 1971) seriously injured a security guard, causing them to spend their holidays in Italy on the ‘lam.’ Receiving this information, the youth shrugs; the prospect of going to jail apparently hadn’t particularly bothered him.

Much of After May is defined by the same kind of shrug; it is a gorgeous, ambitious film without a centre. Olivier Assayas renders the protests of the last half with a spiky restlessness and easy cool that evokes early Godard, then depicts the communes of Italy with a meditative calm and its wild parties with psychedelic vitality. It’s a film that strives to find meaning – in art, in politics, in sex, in film – but it doesn’t seem to feel for its characters, whose own search for purpose comes up empty-handed. Clément Métayer’s bland performance in the lead role doesn’t help. The narrative sees political passion traded for pragmatism and cool detachment; it’s disappointing that After May makes the same choices.

2.5 stars

7 thoughts on “After May (2012)

    • I do think it’s an interesting film, and there is a lot to like about it; I definitely want to see more of Assayas’ work. I just wish there was a stronger central character – or actor, for that matter – at the core of the film. It’s got some great ideas and it’s often beautiful but it felt ..incomplete to me. I’ll check out your review 🙂

      • It’s been a while since I saw it, so I don’t feel confident commenting on it too much. I will only say that I don’t remember thinking much of the lead boy (but also not disliking him). I did really like Lola Creton (who is the girl pointing in the picture).

        Also, are this nude/saucy pictures on your posts a new trend or just a coincidence?

      • Lola did do good work, but the film didn’t have too much time for her.

        Just a coincidence, based on what I’ve seen lately! My film/television viewing seems to work in themes, intentionally or otherwise (see also: the batch of gay cinema a couple weeks ago). This seemed like an appropriate snapshot for the feel of the film. (The Kate Upton gif wasn’t so necessary, but it’s simultaneously the best and most unnecessary bit of The Other Woman so I felt compelled to include it)

  1. A gorgeous film without a center? Sounds like an opportunity lost. Though your score is still reasonably high . . . .

    Which honestly surprises me. The content of the review (poorly developed characters, poor lead performance, etc) might have made me expect a lower score. Anyway, maybe I’ll see the movie someday. Maybe not. 🙂

    • Yeah, I think the word limit makes my review seem harsher than it’s supposed to. It’s not a bad film at all! Worth checking out, but nothing to rush out and see, if that makes sense.

  2. Pingback: The Way, Way Back (2013) | ccpopculture

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