On a distant planet inhabited only by women, a girl unknowingly unleashes an otherworldly assassin
After Blue is one of those movies that feels kinda wrong to try and review, rate or categorize in a tangible way. “Fever dream” appears to be the most common description for this latest cinematic experience from French filmmaker Bertrand Mandico and it’s not hard to see why. After Blue floats itself somewhere between a sensual dream, a horrific nightmare, and a hallucinogenic trip, all within the context of a sci-fi journey.
The film takes place sometime in the future where humanity has begun colonizing planets beyond our solar system. One of those distant planets is After Blue, whose environment is hostile to men and thus is only inhabited by women. “Only ovarian bearers survive on After Blue” we’re told. Our narrator and eyes through this strange world is Roxy (Paula Luna), a young woman struggling to find her place like any other.
Roxy is an outcast among the others her age; a bit more reserved and not as easily able to jump into the frolicking romps that the other girls appear to frequently partake in. They mock her and call her Toxic, but one particular outing changes everything. She discovers someone buried deep in the sand with only their head sticking out, and upon listening to their enticing words, Roxy digs them out. Things go to hell very quickly, as this person is none other than an assassin by the name of Kate Bush (Agata Buzek), who shows her gratitude towards Roxy by swiftly murdering her group of teenage bullies.
This doesn’t exactly sit well with the community that Roxy and her mother Zora (Elina Löwensohn) belong to. The two are banished and sent out into the bizarre, fantastical and dangerous territories of After Blue. Their only hope of returning home is tracking down and capturing Kate Bush themselves. Easier said than done, as the planet reveals itself to not exactly be the perfect paradise that it seems.
Mandico’s film is covered by a constant hazy look, adding to its rich and ethereal visual style. After Blue feels and looks more like a fantasy than anything else, with its impressive and immersive production that manages to truly pull you into the alien world it takes place in. Everything from the details of the costumes, to what color fire is on the planet, to how the horses are dressed, to what tents even look like are given the proper zeal. Filled with hues of purple, pink, and of course blue, the film does indeed invoke the atmosphere of a dream.
The film also oozes sensuality and eroticism in nearly every frame. The release of Kate Bush ignites a sexual awakening within Roxy, who spends the quieter moments of the journey masturbating to the memory of her. The otherworldly assassin has the ability to awaken the hidden desires of all who bear witness to her third eye, which of course, is located not on her forehead but between her legs.
This also goes for Zora, a lonely woman tossed out into the wild for the crime her daughter committed. When she meets a fellow outcast named Sternberg (Vimala Pons), the woman’s self-assured and freeing attitude captives Zora. This leads to, among other things, a steamy scene set in a drug-infused bath that’s likely the most erotic way of delivering exposition you’ll ever see in a movie this year. Löwensohn is who steals the show here, keeping things lively with comic energy and a killer survival instinct.
After Blue is a trip, one that’ll require viewers to dial into just the right wavelength to enjoy. Whether or not that includes certain substances is up to you, wink wink. For all of its dreamlike and arthouse qualities, Mandico’s experimental film has the benefit of an accessible and cohesive narrative. It’s a strangely intoxicating cinematic experience, one bursting with boundless imagination.
‘After Blue’ premieres in select theaters June 3rd with a wider rollout to follow.
6/3 — Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Downtown Los Angeles (L.A., CA)
6/3 — Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Lower Manhattan (New York, NY)
6/3 — Alamo Drafthouse Cinema New Mission (San Francisco CA)
6/3 — Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South Lamar (Austin, TX)
6/3 — Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Sloans Lake (Denver, CO)
6/3 — Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Raleigh (Raleigh, NC)
6/3 — Grand Illusion Cinema (Seattle, WA)
6/3 — Sie FilmCenter (Denver, CO)
6/4 — Nitehawk Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY)
6/10 — Gateway Film Center (Columbus, OH)
6/10 — Cinemapolis (Ithaca, NY)
6/10 — Suns Cinema (Washington D.C.)
6/10 — The Dreamland Cinema (Sacramento, CA)
6/11 — Alamo Drafthouse Winchester (Winchester, VA)
6/11 — Stray Cat Film Center (Kansas City, MO)
6/15 — Belcourt Theatre (Nashville, TN)
6/17 — Metro Cinema (Edmonton, AB)
6/17 — Plaza Theatre (Atlanta, GA)
6/17 — Space Gallery (Portland, ME)
6/17 — Center for Contemporary Arts (Santa Fe, NM)
6/24 — Amherst Cinema (Amherst, MA)
7/15 — Hollywood Theatre (Portland, OR)
*MORE TO COME!*