After The Wedding

"OK"

After The Wedding Review


Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier's After the Wedding is about orphans, literally and figuratively, for every character in it has been orphaned in one way or other from their proper lives. In bringing her themes to life, Bier follows inauspiciously in the footsteps of Jean Renoir, Louis Malle, and, more recently, Jane Campion, among other Western filmmakers, in using India as a pat, easily available symbol of misery and moral courage.

Bier stakes out the slum warrens of Mumbai to get our attention where we find Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen), a Danish expatriate, running what the press notes called a "woefully under-financed" orphanage. (Honestly, isn't everything in India, depicted in Western cinema, "woeful" and "under-financed"?) Jacob is surrogate daddy to one of the orphans, Pramod (Neeral Mulchandani), whom he's raised since infancy, and who represents his only vital and most human relationship.

Desperate for funds for his orphanage and to expand its outreach, Jacob reluctantly travels back to Denmark where Jørgen (Rolf Lassgård), a wealthy businessman, wants to meet with him and make him a healthy investment offer. Bearish and imposing, Jørgen prevails over Jacob to attend the lavish wedding for his daughter Anne (Stine Fischer Christensen). At the wedding, Jacob discovers that Jørgen's wife is, in fact, his old flame, Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen), with whom he parted ways in India, 20 years ago. If that isn't enough, the revelation that Jørgen is not Anne's biological father and that Helene left Jacob while she was pregnant with Ann give Jacob the shock of his life.

Jacob and Anne initiate a dance of reconciliation, while he and Helene clear the air of past grievances. Still, one can't shake the suspicion that Jørgen's pulling the strings here, he's the puppetmaster manipulating not just the reunion of man-woman and father-daughter, but also how and where Jacob will spend the rest of his life. Jørgen's motives become evident eventually, but by then Bier and Jensen's story has already worn out much of its welcome.

The first third of After the Wedding is, on the whole, marvelous filmmaking, graceful yet assertive. Bier capably conveys the psychologies of her characters through her intimate compositions, anxious editing rhythms, and use of leitmotifs -- the game trophy heads that decorate Jørgen's mansion become powerful symbols of death and disconnection. Similarly, the performances here are uniformly top-notch, with Mikkelsen, Lassgård, Christensen, and Knudsen all serving the script honestly and intensely.

Trouble, though, is that Jensen's script, with Bier's direction marching in step, doesn't know when to quit plotting, as if the filmmakers lacked enough faith in the characters and the premise they created. As a result, After the Wedding loses all sense of its early poetry -- the gentle, mood-driven qualities that set the movie's tone -- in order to accommodate what becomes an increasingly leaden melodrama. For at its heart, this is a simple and lovely story about family responsibility, and doing right by those you love. But it collapses under the weight of one calamity after another, each one worse and more tedious than the last. Gradually, Jørgen's self-obsessed hysterics commandeer the spotlight and push aside the original story involving Jacob, and his conundrum over whether to return to his adopted family in India (comprised of those who have no families) or to stay true to his own, heretofore unknown family, back in his homeland.

Little Pramod's suggestion to Jacob which, roughly paraphrased, amounts to "keep your garbage in your own yard," is apt, I think, for all Western filmmakers who have and will use India as a moral panacea so that their white characters can feel better about themselves. While I'm at it and for what it's worth, I hereby declare a moratorium on any such filmmakers entering India (or any Third World country, for that matter) in hopes of preventing any further culturally condescending journeys into the white man's heart of darkness.

Aka Efter brylluppet.

After the wedding... we're gonna dance all night.



After The Wedding

Facts and Figures

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th February 2006

Box Office USA: $1.5M

Distributed by: IFC Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 90 Rotten: 13

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Sisse Graum Olsen

Starring: as Jacob, Stine Fischer Christensen as Anna, Sidse Babett Knudsen as Helene, Rolf Lassgård as Jørgen, Christian Tafdrup as Christian, Frederik Gullits Ernst as Martin, Kristian Gullits Ernst as Morten, as Annette, Mona Malm as Famor, Neel Rønholt as Mille

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.