After The Wedding review

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Available now, Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams star in After The Wedding. Here’s our review.

American remakes of foreign films have been a long-standing tradition in Hollywood, with varying degrees of success – from the good (The Departed) to the bad (Oldboy), and the very ugly (sorry Godzilla (1998)). Following this year’s US revisions of The Intouchables (now renamed The Upside) and Israeli film The Kindergarten Teacher, comes a remake of the 2006 Susanne Bier directed, Mads Mikkelsen-starring Danish film of the same name, After The Wedding. With director Bart Freundlich at the helm, the film is positioned as a twist-laden tale of intrigue. Those with little, or in fact no, knowledge of the original will be at an advantage, as the less you know about what actually happens after the wedding, the better.

So on to what happens before the wedding… The film opens with Michelle Williams’ Isabel in Kolkata, India (a gender reversal on the role previously inhabited by Mads Mikkelsen), who, following a lack of provisions for the children in her orphanage, is forced to travel to New York to meet with the benefactors face to face in order to secure further funding. Cut to said benefactor, Theresa (Julianne Moore), screaming along to Lady Gaga’s ‘The Edge Of Glory’ in her four-wheel drive in a moment that can only be described as cinematic gold. When the two women finally meet, Theresa is distracted by her daughter’s upcoming nuptials and invites Isabel to join the family for the celebrations, thus postponing matters of money until post ceremony – which is when the story really kicks into gear.

Though the portrayal of the two central women as polar opposites isn’t exactly subtle, the guarded dynamic between the pair is captivating, as they bristle against and bounce off one another. While Williams is beautifully understated, make-up free and almost ethereal, the stand-out performance comes from Moore. With the enviable ability to elevate any role she turns her attention to – regardless of how well a character may or may not be written – she is an absolute powerhouse here. Her chemistry with Billy Crudup (as Theresa’s husband, Oscar) is effortless and their marriage feels lived-in, particularly during some of the more emotionally driven scenes – with the authenticity that they bring to their final scene together making for a truly gut-wrenching one.

This is a film about impossible choices, a moving meditation on motherhood and sacrifice. Yet, despite impressive performances from all involved, it is a largely by-the-numbers and unnecessary remake of the original.

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