“Aftermath,” written and directed by Polish filmmaker Władysław Pasikowski, is everything you can ask of a movie and more. It is intelligent, thoughtful and involving, an experience that will generate conversations long after the last frame dissolves into nothingness.
It is also brave — brave of Pasikowski, brave of his actors, brave of his crew. “Aftermath” refers to what happened after World War II, when property and land stolen from Jewish families was not returned and where there was no proper accounting for the dead. It is brutal in its depiction of a nation where not much changed.
The movie takes place in 2001. Franek Kalina (Ireneusz Czop) returns to his small village in central Poland where he was raised, after living for two decades in the U.S. His return is prompted by the unexpected visit from Poland of his brother’s wife. She won’t say why she left him, so Franek goes home to find out.
He discovers that his brother, Józek (Maciej Stuhr), is shunned and vilified by the townspeople. No one, not Józek nor his neighbors, want to speak about it.
All a police officer tells Franek is that Józek was almost arrested for tearing up a road. Franek is perplexed. He visits the site, and all he sees is rocks. But he soon learns the truth.