Grief, an undeniably human experience and the emotions that fall out of it, often can prove challenging to authentically depict on screen, particularly in a way that resonates with viewers. Grief has the ability to paralyze, taking us to distant places sending our entire nervous systems into overdrive. In such a state, one exists on a rudimentary level, where self-recognition and awareness of others become difficult. “The After,” written by John Julius Schwabach jointly directed by British-Nigerian photographer Misan Harriman, delves into profound themes in this Netflix short film, offering a breath of fresh air.
The story revolves around the main character Dayo, played by David Oyelowo, a private driver whose seemingly well-managed life unravels when tragedy strikes. Wrestling with loss, Dayo disconnects from family and friends, evident in his unreturned calls and messages. Harriman skillfully unveils the depths of Dayo’s character as he subtly connects with his clients through gazes and gentle body language, artfully concealing his inner turmoil. While the film explores the expected response of men in such situations, it manages to avoid clichés through its portrayal.
The concluding scene lingers leaving a monumental impact, marking a significant character arc that peaks at the film’s finale. Although we do not witness Dayo’s full circle, the emotionally charged scenes and the poignant final moment leave the audience yearning for more.
Misan Harriman, known for his widely-shared photographic work, brings his unique narrative eye to the film. The decision to cast Oyelowo proves integral, with the actor delivering a breathtaking performance, effortlessly capturing the essence of each scene. Oyelowo, acclaimed for his roles in films like “Selma” (2014) and “Queen of Katwe” (2016), boasts a list of accolades, including three Golden Globe Award nominations and a BAFTA Award.
Oyelowo’s roots trace back to Nigeria, with his father from Oyo State, Western Nigeria, and his Igbo mother from Southern Nigeria. Born in London, Oyelowo spent part of his childhood in Lagos before returning to the UK, where he pursued theater studies.
“The After” has earned a preselection in the ‘Best Live Action Short Film’ category for the 96th Academy Awards, standing out among the 187 eligible films.
With its debut on Netflix on October 25, 2023, the film has resonated with audiences, marking a notable success. The anticipation builds as we await the announcement of the five finalists on Tuesday, January 23, 2024.
By Azadi Ash.