After the Wedding

 

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A movie to challenge the view that they don't make them like that anymore.

 
After the wedding

   

The director of After the Wedding is Bart Freundlich, the husband of Julianne Moore, and it finds them working together as they did in 1997 on The Myth of Fingerprints. Freundlich is also the author of the screenplay which is an adaptation of the Danish film released here under the same title and made by Susanne Bier in 2006. In the circumstances one wonders if he undertook the project specifically to create a vehicle for his wife, although Bier's film seems a rather odd choice for a remake. Admittedly, the original won an Oscar nomination, but back in 2006 it seemed that a talented cast was handling material hardly worthy of their talent and now history repeats itself.

 

In this new version, Moore plays a rich businesswoman, Theresa, who is considering making a large donation to an orphanage in India but first wants to discuss this proposed gift with a representative from the institution who has been specially requested to fly out and see her. Although they now meet in New York instead of in Copenhagen, this situation is directly reproduced from Bier's film and, indeed, the rest of the narrative remains faithful to the original save for one important change and the adjustments that follow from it. Previously the person sent out in this way was played by Mads Mikkelsen, but now this character has become a female, Isabel (Michelle Williams). As it happens Isabel arrives in America at a time when Theresa and her husband, Oscar (Billy Crudup), are announcing the marriage of their daughter Grace (Abby Quinn) and, on being invited to attend the ceremony, Isabel realises that Oscar is somebody who had played a key role in her life years earlier.

 

That is the kind of coincidence that can feel like a plot contrivance and here it is only the first in a story that readily embraces plot twists that a critic should not reveal. It is no surprise given the players involved that Freundlich's film is well acted and it is competently directed too. Nevertheless, what unfolds is a tale that takes us back to the kind of melodramas that were at the peak of their popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. Frequently classified as weepies, they were also often described as women's pictures and the fact that at heart After the Wedding belongs to this category is emphasised all the more by now having actresses in both of the leading roles. It could be argued that this enhances the piece if that kind of old-fashioned movie is what you like but, while lies told in the course of the story could have been made a central issue in a moral drama, After the Wedding simply indulges a storyline that feels too contrived and emotionally manipulative to appeal to critics. The public sometimes take a very different view of such films and those who welcome entertainments of this kind will not be let down by what Freundlich's film has to offer.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup, Abby Quinn, Alex Esola, Susan Blackwell, Will Chase, Elsa Davis, Azhy Robertson, Tre Ryder, Anjula Bedi, Vir Pachisia, Kalzad Gandhi.

 

Dir Bart Freundlich, Pro Joel B. Michaels, Julianne Moore, Bart Freundlich, Harry Finkel and Silvio Muraglia, Screenplay Bart Freundlich, based on the film Efter Bryluppet/After the Wedding (2006), Ph Julio Macat, Pro Des Grace Yun, Ed Joseph Krings, Music Mychael Danna, Costumes Arjun Bhasin.

 

Ingenious Media/Riverstone Pictures/Rock Island Films/Magaritz Productions/Fortysixty-Vertigo Films.
112 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 1 November 2019. Cert. 12A.