Directed by Lucas Belvaux, starring Dominique Blanc, Gilbert Melki, Lucas Belvaux, Ornella Muti, Catherine Frot and Patrick Descamps.

For the final instalment in his multi-angled, watch-alone-or-all-together trilogy, multi-tasker Lucas Belvaux gathers key scenes from the other two films ('On the Run' and 'An Amazing Couple') and broadens them out into amoving analysis of why love comes at a price. He also saves the best until last with the most engrossing storyline and best performances from onscreen couple Dominique Blanc and Gilbert Melki.

Blanc's character, the opium-addicted teacher Agnès, was first introduced in 'On the Run' when she is saved during a savage beating at the hands of a pusher by fugitive terrorist Bruno (Belvaux). She then offered the prison escapee a hideout while her detective husband Pascal (Melki) was trying to track him down.

In the next film, 'An Amazing Couple', Pascal was a bigger player, getting side-tracked from his investigation when he turned private eye for Agnès colleague Cécile (Muti). In that storyline, Pascal came across as an odious badge flasher who chose circumstances over the rules. But like everything else in Belvaux's trilogy, there's always another way of looking at things and 'After Life' shows his more human side and lets us learn more about the strung-out Agnès.

It transpires that Pascal is actually his wife's main supplier of opium, receiving scores from drug kingpin Jacquillat (Descamps) in return for information and tip-offs. But now Jacquillat has called a halt to the rationing because he wants Pascal to find and kill Bruno before the fugitive tries to settle an old score with him. And as Agnès becomes increasingly ill through withdrawal, Pascal finds he has to try and play both ends against the middle if he - and her - are to stay alive.

This is a bleak and uncompromising film which adds the final weight to Belvaux's assertion that the trilogy is actually a quartet - the final movie being the one that the viewer constructs in their own head. While the three can be viewed in any sequence or as one-offs, because of its performances and plot, 'After Life' feels the most complete and the one which excels at making you see scenes from its predecessors in a new way. Granted, that may have much to do with the order in which the films have been released, but after watching them all, the impact would not have been the same if you mixed the three around and say, had 'After Life' playing as the first rather than third.

Every viewer will have their own particular favourite out of 'On the Run', 'An Amazing Couple' or 'After Life', but the lasting legacy of this film is that 'Trilogy' or no 'Trilogy', it deserves to be seen by as many as possible.

Harry Guerin