By: Jessica Goddard
In the delightful tradition of remaking films and gender swapping the leads – which no one is getting tired of at all – After the Wedding struggles to be convincing in its premise.
For those unfamiliar with the original, After the Wedding (2006) is a Danish film directed by Susanne Bier, nominated at the time for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In this version, a man running an orphanage in India is offered substantial financial backing if he agrees to return to Copenhagen to meet with the CEO offering the donation. In the 2019 one, directed by Bart Freundlich (Catch That Kid, Trust the Man, The Rebound), swap out Copenhagen for New York City, and swap out the male leads for Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore. Williams is understated as Isabel, the reserved but impatient expat who’s dedicated her life to caring for orphans in India, and Moore plays Theresa, the brash millionaire entrepreneur who is strangely determined to meet Isabel.
The movie is full of twists, so without giving too much away, there’s a reason Theresa pressures Isabel to come to New York, and the film gets its title from a wedding invitation Isabel receives once there.
Ultimately, gender swapping the main characters doesn’t work very well (for reasons I can’t explain without introducing spoilers), and elevates the original plot from implausible to irritatingly implausible. Williams and Moore, with support from Billy Crudup, put forth a valiant effort, but the screenplay is so busy it doesn’t leave much room for contemplation. The most interesting part of the story is hurried, and it feels like we’re cheated out of the answer to an important question at the end.
Once it wraps up, the whole thing reads like one long, soapy melodrama. It fits neatly into that genre of “movies that would be an interesting news story or cool personal anecdote” that make for an indulgent film.
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Jessica Goddard: @TheJGod