Current Issue #488

Film Review:
After The Wedding

Sony Pictures
Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup and Julianne Moore in After The Wedding

Bart Freundlich’s remake of Susanne Bier’s 2006 Swedish/Danish original Americanises the material, swaps the genders of the protagonists and almost replicates the humanist emotion of the first film – but not quite.

It seems that Bier was all set to direct this herself, with stars Julianne Moore and Diane Kruger, but somehow she and Kruger dropped out, and Moore then got her husband Freundlich involved. And he tries awfully hard to make it work.

Isabelle (Michelle Williams in a role once filled by Mads Mikkelsen) is a co-founder of an orphanage in Kolkota, and early scenes where we see her working with the children, meditating in the silence and looking after a troubled kid named Jai (Vir Pachisia) are amongst the best and most quietly moving here. She grows annoyed when informed that she must travel to New York to meet a potential benefactor named Theresa Young (Moore), and rightly angry that she must justify any sort of charitable donation.

When Isabel and the moneyed Theresa meet they click despite the tension, and as luck would have it (of course) this happens a day before the wedding of Theresa’s daughter Grace (Abby Quinn). On a whim Theresa invites Isabel along, and naturally (as the trailer gives away, as usual) Isabel arrives only to be confronted by Theresa’s artist husband Oscar Carlson (Billy Crudup), a figure from her past who comes complete with a clutch of uncomfortable questions.

The need to ensure that no one here is a villain is slightly undermined by the casting of Crudup, who never quite got over being labelled a ‘great actor’ in the 1990s and has now grown older and slimier, which is wrong for this part and makes us not like Oscar from the outset. Someone more amiable (if obvious and more expensive) like Matt Damon might have been a better, less grisly choice.

There’s also an intriguing undercurrent here about what exactly makes someone a ‘good person’. Isabel is the closest to such a thing, but she’s compensating for something; Theresa wants to buy her way into being thought of as such; and Oscar believes that he is and tells everyone all about it, and often. Despite a title that suggests another damn wedding movie, this is actually more concerned with family, and how they grow, change and adapt. Hopefully.

After The Wedding (M) is in cinemas now

DM Bradley

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