AFTER THE WEDDING
(Efter brylluppet)
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
L to R: Sidse Babett Knudsen as Helene and Mads
Mikkelsen as Jacob in a scene from
AFTER THE WEDDING, directed by Susanne Bier.
An IFC Films release.
Photo Credit: Ole Kragh-Jacobsen
The last of the five 2006 Academy Award
nominees for Best Foreign-Language Feature to
is to my mind, the weakest entry of the group.
That is not to say it is a terrible film -- it just
means that this year perhaps included a more
distinguished group of movies from which to
choose. (Any year that includes movies like
VOLVER, BLACK BOOK, and AVENUE
MONTAIGNE which made the final cut but
failed to secure a nomination, and
FAMILY
LAW
, GRBAVICA, THE YACOUBIAN
BUILDING
, REPRISE and GOLDEN DOOR, to
name but a few that didn't, has to be ranked as
a pretty good one.)

AFTER THE WEDDING opens in India where the
film's protagonist, Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen) is
working as a manager at an orphanage where he
has developed a special bond with one of the
children, Pramod (Neeral Mulchandani). As the
film opens, Jacob is told he must travel back
home to Denmark to meet with Jørgen (Rolf
Lassgård), a wealthy philanthropist.

Jørgen proves to be a tough negotiator and he
continues to dangle the idea of a large
donation. Jacob feels pressured into accepting
his invitation to attend a family wedding the
next day. Reluctantly, Jacob agrees -- and when
he shows up to the ceremony late, he spots
someone from his past. That reunion leads to
series of revelations that are somewhat
melodramatic and schematic in Anders Thomas
Jensen's screenplay. It would appear that there
was more than just coincidence at play.

To reveal more of the plot would spoil the film
for viewers. What elevates the film and makes
it tolerable are the performances, particularly of
the two leading men. Mikkelsen has often been
cast as villains (
THE PUSHER TRILOGY,
CASINO ROYALE), but here he displays his
softer side as a man who must confront long
buried secrets. He is matched by Lassgård, who
does a terrific job, although I did feel he
overemoted in one pivotal scene near the film's
end. The men are ably supported by relative
newcomer Stine Fischer Christensen as the bride
and Sidse Babett Knudsen as her mother.

Bier's direction is primarily solid, although she
relies on intense close-ups for reasons that I
could not fathom. She especially favors shots of
eyes, whether they be of the taxidermic animals
that fill Jørgen's home or of the main characters.

On its own terms and apart from the awards
hoopla,
AFTER THE WEDDING is a decent, if
flawed feature that works mostly due to the
efforts of its talented cast.


Rating:                B-
Running time:    120 mins.
MPAA Rating:     R for some language and
              a scene of sexuality



Viewed at Magno Review One