After the Wedding cuts through its own melodrama at a clippy pace. Third-act twists are delivered halfway through; director Bart Freundlich is more interested in living in the fallout than trying to shock you with revelations you’ll see a mile coming. Gender-swapping the Danish original gives this remake value in its own right – adding fascinating dimensions to a layered story of class, parenthood and what we owe to each other.
Narratively, After the Wedding is a fairly simple four-hander, and Freundlich carefully unfolds each relationship at a steady pace. As a media tycoon and secretive mother, Julianne Moore is as amazing as you’d expect – storming in on a wave of Lady Gaga and rich-person bathtubs. Spouses and frequent collaborators Freundlich and Moore have a clear give-and-take, and Moore brings his script to life without dominating the film – letting mere mortals Billy Crudup and Michelle Williams hold their own to keep After the Wedding balanced.
For good and bad, After the Wedding is impeccably balanced. Freundlich moves easily between slight drama and wry humour, and throws each character enough moral curveballs to keep everyone dancing in the grey. It’s very deliberate and pleasingly even – but also not particularly standout. The pragmatism that defines After the Wedding is refreshing but constricting, and one particularly raw scene between Crudup and Moore makes you wish the film would let loose and allow these rich characters and stellar cast to let rip.
Without the gender flip, After the Wedding couldn’t really justify its own existence. As it stands, Freundlich and co. deliver a tight, careful drama that lives on its own merits – it’s just a shame Wedding doesn’t take off the stabilisers and revel in its melodrama a little more.
CAST: Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup, Abby Quinn
DIRECTOR: Bart Freundlich
WRITERS: Bart Freundlich (screenplay), Anders Thomas Jensen, Susanne Bier (based on the screenplay by)
SYNOPSIS: A manager of an orphanage in Kolkata travels to New York to meet a benefactor.