Six years ago, Jack (Brian Silverman) walked away from his wife Vanessa (Amber Jaeger) and disappeared. In director Aleem Hossain’s intense science-fiction drama (and debut feature) After We Leave, life on Earth is a terrible slog, and the best hope is to escape on a transport spaceship to an off-world colony. Only a chosen few are fortunate enough to make that trip. The DMV-like government office of Extraplanetary Emigration is a place of agony and ecstasy. Queues run down the street. Desperation hangs in the air.
“…life on Earth is a terrible slog and the best hope is to escape on a transport spaceship to an off-world colony…”
Jack is an asshole. He left during the hardest of times, shortly after the couple applied for but never received their emigration visa. He lets everyone believe he’s dead. While Jack’s away, years later, the visa comes through, and that’s when he comes back to L.A. to find Vanessa. We are left to wonder whether he’s back in the hope of rekindling a new life with his beloved in another place. It could also be because the visa was for both of them, so the emigration authority won’t let Jack travel without Vanessa. Things are so restrictive that there’s even a DNA test to verify she’s the right person. Jack is not a hero in this tale, but he’s the closest thing we’ve got.
Jack’s tough as nails, though it takes a few raw experiences for that to become clear. The worst of his encounters, while looking for his wife, is with criminal gang leader Eric (Clay Wilcox). Jack worked for Eric before, and in fact, left him high-and-dry when he skipped town. Understandably, Eric doesn’t welcome him home with open arms.