“Even though I’m in pain, it’s worth sticking around to maybe, make my little corner of the world a slightly better place.”
Losing someone you love is, well there’s nothing really to describe the feeling. The feeling of physically not being able to see that human being anymore is truly indescribable. Life is far too short, and when someone you love dies, everything feels like an abyss. You feel like you’re drowning, and you’re constantly in a cycle of a messy, distressing grievance. The visual medium, I’ve said time and time again has always been an unswerving didactic compass – and in this particular case, Ricky Gervais brings forth a touching, calamitous and very raw dramedy about loss.
‘After Life’ has been written and directed by Ricky (Tony) who decides to deal with the loss of his wife Lisa, of 25 years by basically not giving a rat’s arse about anything anymore (minus the only constant that he has, his dog) and turns into a vile, rude and incredibly uncouth man – despite having a good heart. He doesn’t care about anything anymore, life is meaningless, and he’s plunged himself into abject misery and says and does whatever (pardon my language) the f*** he wants.
“You’re like a troll on Twitter. Just because you’re all upset, everybody else has to feel upset.”
He despises the world and just wants to kill himself, going off on hate tirades with everyone who crosses paths with him because he’s made the decision that he’s going to now essentially punish everybody; his life was Lisa – and now that she’s gone he just doesn’t care about anything anymore and protrudes this God-awful man that he never really was before.
We see him watch old videos of his wife Lisa who talks about her inevitable death and how he should live life.
It’s through these memories we get to know a very different Tony who wasn’t always this way – he was one of the loveliest, kindest people you could have ever known; “you’re always funny at parties…making everyone laugh. Just keep being funny. You’re a lovely man.”
Gervais is phenomenal in bringing about a touching tale where you just can’t help feel for his character.
The actor’s abilities to make you bawl your eyes out with the simplest, yet most striking and hard-hitting, dialogues and words of wisdom are an ebb and flow throughout this Netflix gem. It’s his doe-eyed looks about him that submerge you in incredible pain as you watch him transition back into being a good human being with the help of an older widow he meets (venerated actress Penelope Wilton) – who guides him through it.
While there are a number of heartfelt relationships Tony has in the show, it’s his particular relation to Lisa’s brother, and boss Matt who is unfailing in his patience with Tony’s unbearable ways and still continues to try and make him happy.
“That’s letting yourself down again. You’re doing this on purpose, you know what you’re doing. I don’t even know what you’re fighting anymore, I don’t get this…there’s no enemy in this story you’re just doing this to yourself.”
To which Tony replies: “I’m in pain alright, I’m in f****** pain all the time. And I do shit like this because it makes me feel better for a split second.”
“Other people are in pain as well you know, other people have shit going on. Other people have things that they need to deal with.”
‘After Life’ moved me, having lost someone very close to me, the unbearable pain and hatred that Tony harboured was something very familiar.
If you have suffered loss, you won’t regret watching this.