Review: AFTER THE WEDDING Is A Human Melodrama With A Splash Of Mystery

after the wedding trio
Left to Right: Michelle Williams as Isabel, Billy Crudup as Oscar Carlson, Julianne Moore as Theresa Young. Photo by David Giesbrecht. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

After the Wedding, written and directed by Bart Freundlich, is an American remake of the acclaimed Danish film of the same name by Susanne Bier. A meaningful and sometimes funny melodrama with a surprising amount of subtlety, this movie uses its powerhouse cast to become an intriguing tale of humanity.

The film is about a woman who manages an orphanage in Calcutta that travels to New York City to meet a potential benefactor, only to discover that they have more in common than they thought. Although the movie does have a mystery element (which is heavily played up by the trailers), the focus is more on the relationships between the characters.

A major theme in the film is the importance of family. Some of the most interesting moments in the movie are those that occur between the benefactor (played by Julianne Moore) and her husband (Billy Crudup) and daughter (Abby Quinn). There is an honesty to the way their relationship is developed, and while some of the things which they experience are a bit over-the-top, the dynamic really sells it.

Another part of the reason why the film works so well is that the character development is quite good. Bier is known for her nuanced characters, so Freundlich had plenty to work with for his arcs. He does an excellent job of establishing the characters in the beginning of the movie within their archetypes and busting those preconceptions down in the second act so that the third act can have the impact you would expect.

after the wedding meeting
Left to Right: Michelle Williams as Isabel, Julianne Moore as Theresa Young
Photo by Julio Macat. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics..

The film really does pack an emotional punch. Of course, if you have already seen the original Danish movie, you are unlikely to be surprised by the twists this film has in store. However, if you go in blind, these turns are going to have more of an impact and be more exciting. It is very easy to get wrapped up in this story and its world, especially if you don’t know what to expect.

That said, the movie also has a dry and dark sense of humor to it. The film isn’t a comedy outright, but you have to admit that there is a bit of humor in the absurdity of the situation. This humor serves as a welcome and needed relief from the sustained tension of the drama at the core of the movie. As a result, the film feels surprisingly well-paced.

The absolute best part of this movie, though, is the ensemble. Not many independent films come out that feature two highly-acclaimed actresses like Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore in the lead roles. Both Williams and Moore give phenomenal performances, but you would expect nothing less from them. Moore is particularly impressive, having more than one awards-worthy “supporting actress moment” over the course of the movie. Between this and Gloria Bell, this may be her year to win another Oscar.

This film is also quite good on a technical level. With a majority of the movie being shot in New York City and some parts shot on location in India, the film has a very unique look and style. The juxtaposition of these two very different environments works quite well, further supporting the movie’s message. The film is just beautiful to look at too, thanks to great cinematography from Julio Macat.

After the Wedding is a very refreshing movie. Featuring a great cast, an interesting story, and a touching message, this film is both quite entertaining and very well-made. Definitely check this one out when it comes to a theater near you.

After the Wedding opens in theaters on August 9.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *