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AFTER THE WEDDING
Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen) is an idealistic man who works at an orphanage in India. By his own choice, Jacob is a Danish citizen who hasn`t lived in Denmark for the last 20 years. His orphanage is always in desperate need of funds, and when Jorgen (Rolf Lassgard), a Danish businessman, contacts him about a large donation, he imposes the condition that Jacob must come meet him in Denmark to sign the contract. Subsequently, Jacob`s arrival at Denmark coincides with the wedding of Jorgen`s daughter and Jacob is invited to join the festivities. There, Jacob discovers that the mother of the bride is in fact the love of his youth, Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen). The wedding undoubtedly becomes the turning point in Jacob`s life.
Ezekiel Lee Zhiang Yang
Watch this if you liked:
"The Invisible", "Breaking The Waves"
Presented in Danish, Swedish, Hindi and English (with English subtitles), "After The Wedding" is Susanna Bier's idea of a family drama with some level of depth, rendering it not immediately consignable to the tele-movie soap slots. The Oscars has become a dubious accreditation but it's good to know that this movie, along with "Pan's Labyrinth", was beaten by the coming-to-our-screens "The Lives Of Others" in the Best Foreign Language Film category last year. Nevertheless, it does boast a few awards at other film festivals and most critics have met this with glowing praise.
What's it about? It's a low-key story about how a Danish man has been spending his time doing charity for children in Mumbai and now having to return to his country under the suspicious request of meeting a businessman who has promised substantial funding for his embattled orphanage - with only a formal handshake from him needed to finalise the deal. Reluctantly leaving his adopted Indian son, he flies to Denmark to discover that the wife of the businessman was his lover and worse - that a more sinister secret is in store.
Playing this sober do-gooder is Mads Mikkelsen (best known to Malaysians as the deformed villain in "Casino Royale" who weeps blood) and he gives a very good account of a recovering alcoholic now seeking redemption for his sins. The ex-lover is Sidse Babett Knudsen, a dead-ringer for Laura Linney! However, the Swede actor Rolf Lassgard turns in the best performance as the opportunistic businessman who is faced with problems money cannot buy out from.
The strength of the film lies in these actors, really - they held their own better than the camcorder had been. The shaky feel of this movie is quite unusual (although intended) for a family drama but there are some sublime backdrop shots that would have been glorious on better colour grading. Still, performances aside, "After The Wedding" cannot go down as a truly memorable movie because it does not have any staying power in terms of content. While various issues and its corresponding solutions are explored in the film, it decidedly avoided an opinion and ended up feeling like a half-hearted look into the fates of a few people who are coincidentally related. Poignantly realistic to some but unrewarding to many, "After The Wedding" is not meant for the masses anyway.
So the flow in the movie is steady and interesting but cannot make a powerful, consuming watch for local flavours, considering its subdued delivery and distant thematic elements. The movie's tagline reads: 'champagne is poured, secrets are spilled'. "After The Wedding" is also poured - but the spilling was never coming.
Cinema Online, 23 September 2008
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