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Review: ‘Aftermath’ is a dreary WWII movie about depressed people

Alexander Skarsgard and Keira Knightley in “The Aftermath.” Photo: David Appleby/Fox, TNS

There’s nothing wrong with “Aftermath,” but for one strange and nagging thing: To watch it is to want to be far away from its world and everyone in it. The movie draws a circle around itself that holds no attraction or appeal, though it’s in every other way competent, well-acted and reasonably intelligent.

It’s Hamburg, a few months after World War II, and people are living amid the bombed-out ruins, hovering over trash can fires in the freezing cold. Everyone in “Aftermath” is depressed, and everyone has great reasons for it. It’s not just the main characters that are depressed, but the bit players, as well. And the extras, to the extent that they’re playing characters — well, they’re depressed, too.

Keira Knightley is a British colonel’s wife, who arrives in Hamburg to be with him as he tries to tries to help the Germans survive the winter and rebuild. She’s depressed because her 11-year-old son was killed during the blitz, and three years later her marriage is a dead shell of politeness and unhealed wounds. The colonel (Jason Clarke) is depressed, too, for some of the same reasons, plus the fact that every day he has to deal with Nazi dead-enders doing terrorist strikes.

Actually, the Brits have it good compared to Stephen (Alexander Skarsgard), a wealthy German architect. Not only was his wife killed by an Allied bomb, but he has to give his house to the British couple and live upstairs in the dark, dank rafters. He lives with his teenage daughter, and she’s so unhappy that she’s rebelling. How? By hanging out with the former Hitler Youth, who are even angrier than they were

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