After the Wedding
Taking inspiration from its 2006 Danish ancestor starring Mads Mikkelsen, After the Wedding stars Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup in a family drama exploring betrayal, forgiveness and, foremost, family values. In an attempt to secure greater funding for her orphanage in India, Isabel (Williams) travels to New York to meet wealthy businesswoman and potential donor Theresa (Moore). Upon arrival, it becomes clear to Isabel that her benefactor has her priorities focused on her daughter’s wedding at the weekend, and she soon finds herself invited to the ceremony. It seems a harmless gesture at first, but when Isabel meets the rest of the family – including Theresa’s husband Mason (Crudup) and daughter Grace (Abby Quinn) – memories flood back to fill the present and determine the future of all four.
Directed by Moore’s husband Bart Freundlich, After the Wedding poses an intriguing concept, to say the least, particularly if you imagine yourself in the shoes of any of the four main characters. With the roles gender-swapped from the 2006 original, great emphasis is placed on the purpose and responsibility that women can feel through motherhood. Isabel feels like a surrogate to an orphan she has taken under her wing, while Moore lavishes pride and love upon her own children. The feature sees the coming together of two extremes of life: one side with mountains of money, the other just about managing to find clothes for children to sleep in.
It is this stark reality that shines through in the film, thanks mostly to the powerful and convincing acting of the main cast. Williams’ emotional depth is put to the test from very early on in the film, but of course there need not be any fear. Her talents have been exemplified in recent years through works such as My Week with Marilyn, All the Money in the World and Manchester by the Sea, and once again the actress displays her unique talent: Isabel proves a role that really only she could play. Likewise, Moore shows what a powerhouse she is, portraying the conflicted millionaire to devastating effect and riding the highs and lows of life alongside the more restrained and melancholic artist Mason.
Despite the enticingly curious plot, what you see on screen turns out to be exactly what you get. A frustrating lack of character development for some members of the central four leads to a structural imbalance that upsets the apple cart as the plot surges on, flattening the eventual climax. As hard as the leading actors work, their performances alone cannot fill the holes in the script. Luxurious cinematic splendour splashes across the screen, but the deeper context of what the characters’ actions mean is rather less fulfilled. Scenes, and ultimately the film as a whole, finish too abruptly, leaving the viewer yearning for more. Ultimately, After the Wedding fails to round off its story arc; emotions begin to bubble, but never boil over.
After the Wedding is released nationwide on 1st November 2019.
Watch the trailer for After the Wedding here: