Netflix’s ‘The After’ is a British short film that deals with intense grief and what happens after a life-changing moment. Written and directed by Misan Harriman, the drama short stars David Oyelowo as Dayo, who witnesses his daughter and wife die in front of him after a violent crime. He is now a broken man even a year after the incident, and the story follows the ways in which Dayo deals with a day in his life that altered the course of his entire existence. It seems like there should be an end to his misery, and he should get the closure he needs. SPOILERS AHEAD!
The After Plot Synopsis
‘The After’ follows a busy working man Dayo, who is about to drop off his daughter with her mother and leave for an important meeting. Realizing that these moments with Lauren mean too much to ignore, he cancels the meeting at the last minute so he can spend time with his family. His wife is thrilled to hear that he is joining them, but before they can head to Lauren’s dance performance, Dayo gets a work call from James. While he’s on the phone, he hears a woman scream and witnesses a masked man stabbing someone. When the criminal comes close to his wife and daughter, Dayo asks him to stop from a distance. The man ignores Dayo and reaches Lauren before anyone can react and stabs her, before throwing her from the building.
Dayo charges at the man while trying to search for Lauren. His wife looks down and possibly in an attempt to save her daughter or join her, she jumps from the building too. This is the moment Dayo loses everything he has ever cherished. After the incident, Dayo leaves his demanding job and is earning a living as a taxi driver. While picking up passengers, he tries to understand their emotions and spends his day involved in their lives. His monotonous routine continues till the day he picks up a couple with a daughter who looks just like Lauren, which shakes Dayo to the core.
The After Ending, Explained: What Leads to Dayo Bursting Into Tears?
Dayo’s whole life after his wife and daughter die revolves around that incident and the grief that comes thereafter. Even after a year, Dayo has not taken off his wedding ring, showing that he’s not willing to accept what happened to him yet. He keeps reliving the happy moments with his daughter and wife before they die, and an old voice message from his wife comforts him. He has pushed himself away from everyone he knows and doesn’t want to seek help. He just wants to be left alone and ponder over this devastating thing that happened to him.
It seems like Dayo even feels guilty about not being more present in his wife and daughter’s lives while they were still alive, and giving more importance to work. His wife’s old voice message and his daughter’s acceptance of the fact that her dad will not come to her dance performance indicate how his family had made peace with the fact that he was always busy. They wanted his time, but understood. His guilt might stem mostly from the fact that moments before Lauren was stabbed and thrown off the building, he was attending another work call. Dayo knows if he had not taken that call and left with his family, they would still be alive now. There’s no doubt he loved them and cherished the moments, but it’s possible this guilt of putting work over them so many times is eating at him, so much that he quit the corporate job and decided to be a driver instead.
Everything with his wife and daughter happened so fast that Dayo had no time to comprehend it. Incidentally, he had realized the same day how he needed to be with his daughter when a rash bike drove past them within seconds, which could have easily hurt Lauren. This made him change his mind, and after realizing life is too short, he decided to attend her function after all. But life had other plans, and an even worse fate awaited his daughter, which is something Dayo could never have imagined. This incident clearly shattered his self-worth and his understanding of what life is all about. He keeps grieving silently while working but doesn’t burst out crying till the very end.
When Dayo gets a booking from a couple whose daughter Amy looks a lot like what Lauren would if she were alive, it shakes him up. Moments before the family arrived, Dayo was trying to celebrate Lauren’s birthday in the cab with a picture from the last time he saw her. Even if he is shaken, he knows he has to be professional and drop off the family at their home. He still keeps looking back at Amy from the rearview mirror as the couple fights about petty issues. Amy is silent throughout this exchange, possibly immune to her parents’ fights. But it also feels like Amy can tell something is wrong with Dayo, and she keeps observing him keenly.
When the time comes to leave the cab, Amy stays back for a while but gets up later to head home. Amy knows something is troubling Dayo, and as he stands with his back towards her, overwhelmed with emotions, she goes and hugs him from behind. While Amy’s parents think Dayo is misbehaving, Dayo is overcome with emotions due to this little gesture of kindness from the young girl. He frees himself from her arms and bursts out crying because that one moment finally gives him closure. In that moment, he can feel what it would feel like if his own daughter hugged him, and he finally starts accepting everything that happened to him. In a way, it seemed like all he needed was this tiny nudge from the girl to come to terms with his reality. He also knows he has to somehow figure out a way to keep living his life nonetheless.
Read More: Greatest Short Films Ever Made