Film Review: AFTER THE WEDDING (USA 2019) ***

After the Wedding Poster

A manager of an orphanage in Kolkata travels to New York to meet a benefactor.


Bart Freundlich


Susanne Bier (original screenplay), Bart Freundlich | 1 more credit »

AFTER THE WEDDING is the 2006 Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee that put Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier on the moviemaking map.  As the film was released way back when, it has been more than 10 years since Julianne Moore initiated the remake and many will hardly remember anything abut the original  movie, expect that it was really good.  And that’s a good thing.  The plot revelations in the film are what keeps the film both interesting and engrossing.

In the original film, the protagonist played by Mads Mikkelsen is a Dane working in India at an orphanage before traveling back to Copenhagen to secure funds from a wealthy entrepreneur who happens to have a hidden agenda.  In the new version the gender roles are switched.  Isabel (Michelle Williams) is an American transplant who has devoted her life to running a Calcutta orphanage.  Just as funds are drying up, she is contacted by a potential donor , Theresa (Julianne Moore) who insists that Isabel must travel to New York (replacing Copenhagen) to make a presentation in person.  Once in New York, Isabel lands in the sight line of Theresa, a multi-millionaire media mogul who seems to have a perfect life – from the glittering skyscraper where she runs her business, to the glorious Oyster Bay estate, where she lives with her artist husband (Billy Crudup), about-to-be married daughter (Abby Quinn) and younger twin sons.  While Isabel thinks she’ll soon be returning to the orphanage, Theresa has other plans for Isabel. 

The less said about the film’s story the better, as the revelations of the plot would spoil  the film’s entertainment.

Both what is a marvellous about this version are the performances by the two female leads.  Williams is the best, acting through her eyes and mannerisms, and obviously stealing the limelight from Moore.  Moore, understandably gives herself some major lines to dramatize when she, realizing that she is going to die screams that she wants to live.  This is reminiscent of the Jill Clayburgh scene in Daryl Duke’s GRIFFIN AND PHOENIX where she and Peter Falk played lovers who were both dying of terminal illness but finally happy in love.  Clayburgh’s character screams and cries: “Life is so unfair!!”

In the film there is a segment where the females Isabel and her daughter (Abby Quinn) bond together in a moment of distress.  Again, this is right out of Alfonso Curaron’s ROMA where the major line was uttered by the mistress to the maid, when pregnant thought she was going to be fired (by her mistress) but only to be told: “We women have to stick together.”

AFTER THE WEDDING is so immaculately shot n almost too perfect India (with a huge outdoor pool for washing that seems to clean of authenticity) and an orphanage looking too perfect with a perfectly organized wedding where all the speeches are delivered spot-on perfect are examples.  Imperfections occur in real life.


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