English-born Mary (Scanlan) enjoys a stable marriage to ferry boat captain Ahmed (Memarzia), having converted to his native Islam long ago. When he dies suddenly, she learns he’s been leading a double life on his travels. Mary crosses to Calais and locates “other woman” Genevieve (Richard) and her teenage son Solomon (Ariss), who resembles her late husband. Neither is aware Ahmed has died. Reluctant to reveal her identity, Mary gains entry to their home posing as a domestic. How long can this ruse go on, and what happens when the truth comes out?
Even with all the ingredients for melodrama baked in, writer/director Khan’s first feature unfolds as a nuanced meditation on the complexities of love and lies that hide in plain sight. Though selfish and duplicitous, Ahmed was no monster; he seems to have loved two women who loved him back. Mary embarks on a journey to come to terms with his betrayal, partly by understanding what Ahmed’s other life was like. Excellent performances from the three featured actors carry the day, with young Ariss a standout as a vulnerable teen confronting his sexuality and yearning for his father. There’s a lot to love in “After Love.”