Divorce is a stressful time for all involved. After Love (French title: L’Économie du Couple) places us into a divorcing household in which those stresses are amplified. After fifteen years of marriage Boris and Marie are separating. They both love their twin daughters Margaux and Jade. Because Boris has little money, he cannot find a place of his own, so they are still all living together, although with rules (which aren’t always followed) about when each of them should be there. We aren’t given the reasons for the breakup, but we do see the struggles they have trying to bring things to an end.
This is a film that is upsetting to watch. The actors and script provide a very realistic sense of the pain this family is going through. Because we aren’t told the reasons, we have a difficult time assigning blame to either Boris or Marie, and so we don’t have a villain, only victims. Actually we see each having some bit of blame. Boris can be irresponsible and often is passive aggressive during arguments. Marie refuses some plans that could facilitate Boris achieving a firmer financial footing. Especially when it comes to financial issues, neither seems to want to give in to the other even though it would facilitate moving on.
I find the two titles to be interesting. They may seem totally different, but they are in fact complimentary. The English title reminds us that these two people were once in love, but for whatever reason that past love no longer binds them. The way they act towards each other is no longer loving. The French title is about more than just the economic issues that are complicating their divorce, it involves the whole system within the family which are built upon those issues. As the love fades, the underlying problems become more pronounced.
Because the pain the couple experiences is so evident in this film, it may be one that some viewers will avoid. But that pain is based in the reality of the situation. The loss of love within a marriage tears at the hearts of those who watch it. This film takes us through that pain without a sign of joy to come.