‘After Blue’ presents world of psychedelic visuals, imaginative plot

Ryan Ranc, Life & Arts Reporter

The queer sci-fi fantasy romance movieAfter Blueopened in theatres June 3. From the imaginative mind of Bertrand Mandico, the film follows a lonely girl named Roxy (Paula Luna) and her mother Zora (Elina Löwensohn) in the aftermath of Roxy’s encounter with a seductive assassin named Kate Bush (Agata Buzek) that left Roxy’s friends dead. The mother-daughter duo, ostracized by their community, find themselves forced to hunt down and kill Kate Bush.

Worldbuilding stands out as the strongest element of “After Blue.” Both in a physical sense, with the practical sets being used for filming, and in an imaginative sense, with the explanations and storylines driving the setting and characters, this movie flaunts highly creative and rich worldbuilding. The setting of the movie, a planet named After Blue, conveys a paradise inhabited only by women, since men could not survive the planet’s conditions. By explaining this early on through voiceover narration, the movie more easily establishes the budding romance between Roxy and Kate. Visually, each set piece pushes the feeling of a non-earthly planet and a terrain that feels unique and fresh for the sci-fi genre. Whether plants dripping with slimy goo or the incredibly coarse-looking sand with crooked trees rooted beneath, every element of the world aids the plot and lends itself to fantastic visuals.

Stunning graphics from psychedelic vision sequences, colorful atmospheres and glitter-drenched actors combine to create a style that stands out within the sci-fi genre. The aesthetic details of the characters can truly only be described as ethereal, sensual and bizarre. Just like the worldbuilding, the film’s visuals provide a treat for the mind and eyes.

Despite its interesting concept and unique style, “After Blue”’s story sadly appears weak and confusing. The concept and the lead-up to the conflict flow well and hold audiences attention, but as the story progresses, understanding the narrative begins to feel like a chore. The visuals, acting and music hold up a conceptually great story that did not adequately materialize.

As previously mentioned, the film’s acting and soundtrack make up other dynamic aspects of “After Blue.” Every actor showcases emotions not just with their words, but with their every facial expression and movement. Obviously, great actors show rather than tell, but the actors in “After Blue” take it up a notch to a level no recent movie has seemed to replicate. Similarly, the score holds its own compared to even the best sci-fi soundtracks in cinema. Its synthy vibe and ethereal chords grab the attention of the audience in an enveloping experience. The soundtrack’s only downside lies in its tendency to distract from the story and dialogue. Though incredibly arranged, the grand instrumentals make it difficult to focus on anything else.

This romp into the psychedelic sci-fi-filled mind of Bertrand Mandico provides audiences with a lot to enjoy, but at its core, the story remains confusing and a hollow shell of a concept that, while basic, proves intriguing. Ultimately, the story cannot and should not rely on the other fantastic elements of “After Blue.” If the plot reached the level of visuals, worldbuilding and acting of the rest of the movie, the film would make a sure recommendation for all viewers. However, as it is, this movie only appeals to lovers of psychedelic art styles.

3 ethereal dreamscapes out of 5