In the first feature in the series, "On the Run," Pascal clung to the edges of the story as one of the cops chasing down the prison escapee, the terrorist Le Roux (played by Belvaux himself), while his wife assumed a more central role aiding and abetting the escapee. In the second feature, "An Amazing Couple," Pascal emerged as a more ambiguous and human figure, while his wife receded into the background. As a favor to his wife and her friend, Cécile (Ornella Muti), Pascal tailed Cécile's husband, Alain (François Morel), in an effort to discover whether he was cheating. During the course of his investigation, Pascal fell for Cécile, but it isn't until the third film that we discover what pushed him away from his own wife.
A generally uncompromising look at unquiet desperation, "After the Life" fills in the remaining blanks opened by the first features, bringing the three films neatly together. Central to the last film's success are Manise and Blanc, who invest the story with intensity unmatched since Belvaux stormed through the first feature. Like Belvaux's single-minded terrorist, Agnès and Pascal are victims of crippling addictions — she's addicted to morphine, he's addicted to her. The filmmaker reveals the horrors of addiction but never revels in it, unveiling the layers of deception that the couple — like most of the other characters in the series — use to keep their true selves hidden. A meta-mystery about the enigma of human nature, "The Trilogy" is finally one man's deep immersion into the muck and meaning of everyday life.
MPAA rating: Unrated
Times guidelines: Adult language and themes, drug use, violence
Dominque Blanc...Agnès Manise
Gilbert Melki...Pascal Manise
Lucas Belvaux...Bruno Le Roux
Ornella Muti...Cécile Costes
François Morel...Alain Costes
A Patrick Sobelman, Agat Films et Cie, Diana Elbaum, Entre Chien et Loup production, released by Magnolia Pictures. Writer-director Lucas Belvaux. Production designer Pascal Bonnet. Cinematographer Pierre Milon. Sound Christian Monheim. Continuity Rene Falson. Set design Frederique Belvaux. Costume design Cecile Cotten. Editor Danielle Anezin. Music Riccardo del Fra. In French with English subtitles. Running time: 2 hours, 4 minutes. Exclusively at Laemmle's Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills (310) 274-6869