Sundance London 2019: After the Wedding Film Review

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Directed by Bart Freundlich, After the Wedding is the American remake of Susanne Bier‘s 2006 Danish film of the same name. The film stars Michelle Williams as Isabel, who travels to New York to secure funding for her orphanage in India. She soon meets her benefactor Theresa (Julianne Moore), who invites her to the wedding of her daughter Grace (Abby Quinn). However, Isabel recognises Theresa’s husband Oscar (Billy Crudup), which reveals hidden truths.

Once audiences notice the tension between Isabel and Oscar, it is evident that their history threatens the futures of the three characters. Freundlich weaves tension between them, ranging from Isabel’s discomfort in New York, Theresa’s trembling confidence and Oscar’s need to justify his life choices. This forms a base for a strong drama but the characters’ ulterior motives make them quite selfish. There is also a lack of proactivity so even with a 110-minute runtime, audiences keep waiting for a resolution.

Despite the lacklustre pacing of After the Wedding, Julio Macat brings out the colour and vividness of Kolkata and New York. In addition, Freundlich’s direction wonderfully brings out Isabel’s isolation as a contrast to Theresa and Oscar’s luxurious life. The film is also saved by the cast’s solid performances. Michelle Williams’ convicted and passionate Isabel is intent on and minimising the amount of time in civilisation until she is confronted by her past. Her appearance shatters the perfect suburban life of Theresa and Oscar, which goes from content to insecure just as quickly. Moore’s mercurial performance as Theresa is on even par with Williams – offering layers of complexity that see a much-appreciated shift in character. 

With what started out as a simple transaction, After the Wedding becomes a confusing melodrama and the need to drag out this complex love triangle almost nullifies any emotionality it creates.

Overall, After the Wedding tries to tug the heartstrings of its audience but not even the performances of Williams and Moore are enough to shed a tear.

Director: Bart Freundlich
Stars: Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup
Runtime: 110 minutes
Country: USA

Film Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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