AFTER FALL, WINTER ON DEMANDFebruary 02, 2012
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: AFTER FALL, WINTER (FilmBuff).
AFTER FALL, WINTER
Early in Eric Schaeffer’s overlong and icky AFTER FALL, WINTER, a French woman reminds Schaeffer’s character that “there’s a big difference between you thinking your life is interesting and anyone else thinking it is.” It’s interesting that the guy who wrote that line is as unaware of its stinging truth as Schaeffer is.
A filmmaker who has made a cottage industry of making films that explore his self-perceived interestingness, Schaeffer has spent almost twenty years offering variations on his neurotic, self-obsessed, insufferably narcissistic persona, beginning with the twee MY LIFE’S IN TURNAROUND, to the precious IF LUCY FELL, through the indulgent THEY’RE OUT OF THE BUSINESS. Now it seems that he has topped himself with the truly offensive AFTER FALL, WINTER.
Set in Paris, AFTER FALL, WINTER features the return of Schaffer’s TURNAROUND protagonist, Michael, a one-and-done novelist half a million dollars in debt. Convinced by a friend to shake his depression in Paris, Michael heads to the city of lights where he meets Sophie, a woman who lives a bifurcated life as both a dominatrix and a glorified candy striper. As their relationship progresses, secrets are revealed, lives are changed, and much BDSM is displayed.
Schaeffer’s Michael is a deplorable character, equal parts self-pity and narcissism, and his 130-minute odyssey, which leads to a grossly contrived ending straight out of ROMEO AND JULIET, is crass and unpleasant. Schaeffer wants his audience to think that he’s being “daring” by depicting aberrant sexual practices and full frontal male nudity as signifiers, but what he’s really doing is working out his own neuroses under cover of fiction. The creepy, voyeuristic vibe of AFTER FALL, WINTER is one of its least savory characteristics and keeps the audience from truly connecting with its characters.
A series of prolonged conversations punctuated by “shocking” scenes of sex and bondage, AFTER FALL, WINTER is less a movie than an indulgence, something that is true of almost all of Schaeffer’s work. As writer, director, producer, and star, Schaeffer clearly does not play well with others, eschewing collaboration in favor of shining the light on himself and his character, such as it is. As a result, enduring a Schaeffer film is akin to one of the great guilty pleasures for New Yorkers of the 1970s: watching unctuous, oily talk show host Stanley Siegel engage in therapy sessions on the air. (If you’re outside the tri-state area and haven’t experienced it, do a youtube search for Siegel. You won’t be sorry.)
For a writer as supposedly prolific as Schaeffer – he claims to have written twenty screenplays over the nine years he drove a cab – it is amazing that he returns to the same source material again and again and again. I would think that a guy with his ability might have a heist movie – maybe SCHAEFFER’S ELEVEN – or an Oscar-bait wartime drama – SCHAEFFER’S LIST – sitting in a drawer somewhere. Instead, the filmmaker returns to the same well of preening self-love, alternately alienating his audience and shamelessly manipulating it: the purest character in the film is a thirteen-year-old leukemia patient whose wisdom in the face of death drives the film’s maudlin and vile third act.
From a production standpoint, Schaeffer deserves notice for getting his films financed, and as a director, he knows where to put the camera and place the actors – usually slightly behind him as he maintains his position in the center of the frame. But, like a lot of his earlier works, AFTER FALL, WINTER squanders whatever goodwill an audience brings to it due to its producer/director/writer/star’s unrelenting egomania. AFTER FALL, WINTER is only for Schaeffer completIsts – both of them, including Schaeffer himself – or anyone who wants to see how one of the world’s most beautiful cities can be besmirched by a third-rate Woody Allen. It’s a loathsome work from a filmmaker whose disdain for his audience is palpable.
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com
Look for AFTER FALL, WINTER (FilmBuff) on demand.
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