AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2011
By Don Simpson | October 17, 2011
Writer: Eric Schaeffer
Starring: Eric Schaeffer, Lizzie Brocheré
Sophie (Lizzie Brocheré) is a 25-year old nurse who helps take care of terminally ill people in their final days; she also moonlights as a dominatrix. The two careers describe Sophie very well. She can be gentle and kind, yet she also enjoys control and power; in either scenario she displays the utmost strength and fortitude. Despite her natural beauty, Sophie has never had a boyfriend; perhaps because feeling love for someone would exude weakness.
Sophie is used to taking care of elderly people who are dying, but then she is assigned a 13-year old gypsy girl — Anais — who is dying of leukemia. Being around Anais changes Sophie and she begins to soften just enough to be receptive to a pushy American author, Michael (Eric Schaeffer). Michael has come to Paris to hide from his dying career and crippling amount of debt. Like most Americans, Michael does not possess adequate enough manners to say hello (or bonjour, in this case) before entering into a conversation with someone; a fault Michael quickly corrects, in order to have a chance at winning Sophie. Oh, and Michael is addicted to S&M; he enjoys being dominated by women.
One would think that Sophie and Michael would be the perfect match and they do share a fiery — sometimes combustible — chemistry. Partially due to their language barrier, Michael often comes off as being arrogant and condescending — those are two traits that Sophie does not react well to. Despite being fairly frank about their likes and dislikes in the bedroom, Sophie and Michael opt to hide their love for S&M from each other. This, my friends, is their downfall…
It seems as though films that portray characters who do not abide by vanilla heterosexual behavior in favorable and sympathetic perspectives are a dime a dozen these days. All of these films share a very similar message — we need to be honest about our sexuality, first and foremost with our lovers. Writer-director Eric Schaeffer’s After Fall, Winter is no different. That is not a bad thing. I think After Fall, Winter clearly communicates a message that needs to be pounded repeatedly through many puritanical Americans’ thick skulls.
What I enjoy most about After Fall, Winter — well, besides Lizzie Brocheré (Sleepless Night) whom I have loved ever since her amazing performance in Karin Albou’s The Wedding Song (2009) — is the way that Schaeffer toys with conventional gender roles. Sophie is mostly masculine. She is strong, blunt, and has sex when she wants it, but she shies away from intimate conversations. Michael is mostly feminine. He is a fragile romantic and quick to fall in love; he loves intimate conversations, and — depending on who you ask — he might be described as open and honest.
Also be sure to check out our interview with Eric Schaeffer.