By reading the blurb on the back of the dvd one would be forgiven for finding the storyline completely uninspiring with huge potential for gross mellodrama. Fortunately Sussanne Bier has this incredible talent as a director to get the very very best from her actors which raise this film way above my initial expectations.
The story is of Jacob a manager of an orphanage in India who is sent to Copenhagen to get funding. Once there his past comes back to haunt him, to say anymore would be to give most of the suprises away which would be a shame as this is definately a film that benefits from knowing absolutely nothing about it.
Fabulous performances from the four main actors especially Mads Mikkelsen as Jacob and Stine Fischer Christensen as the Bride. What really impresses about this film is the direction which is absolutely perfect, filmed in a style that makes it feel very real. On more than one occasion I forgot I was watching a film with actors, this was mostly prevolent in one particularly memorable scene involving the mother and father of the bride where the father has recieved some bad news and is telling his wife. Filmed in their bedroom this felt more real than many reality tv shows.
To conclude this is World cinema at its brutal best involving some brilliant naturalistic performances, directed with aplomb by Bier. Superb.
on 6 December 2007
It has been a long time since I was scared of writing a review, but this is one of those cases. This film is extraordinary, and therefore, I fear not being able to convey the extent of its qualities. Having said that, this is not a movie for everyone, since it develops at a slow pace and, in the typical fashion of Scandinavian movies, spends quite a bit of time contemplating the faces of the actors, in order to allow the viewer to understand their emotions. However, unless the pace is something that really bothers you, this is a movie that you cannot afford to miss.
Jacob is working in India helping homeless children, and in an effort to secure funds for his quest, sees himself forced to travel back home, to Denmark, to meet with the CEO of an important corporation. Upon his arrival, he meets this affable family man, Jorgen, who promptly asks him to stay over the weekend and attend his daughter's wedding. When Jacob sees Jorgen's wife, he realizes that he already knows her, and when a speech by the bride reveals unsettling information, things get complicated really fast. After that, emotions rise to the surface and we witness one of the most beautiful and moving stories I have seen in a long time.
This film not only has a wonderful plot as a backbone, but also counts with an astounding cast, all of whom play their roles to perfection, and excellent cinematography. The use of the cameras, especially with close-ups of the eyes when emotional scenes are developing, works perfectly. As if this was not enough, the little I know about Scandinavian culture was proficiently presented. I attended a friend's wedding in Sweden earlier this year and I was amazed at how similar this was to what they showed in the movie. I have always been a fan of Scandinavian productions, but this film is at a higher level than most. Simply brilliant!
on 1 April 2007
Jacob, doing humanitarian work at an Indian children's refuge, (the erstwhile "Casino Royale" villain, Mads Mikkelsen) doesn't know what to think when his superior tells him that a prospective benefactor ( Rolf Lassgard in a heart wrenching performance as Jorgen) requires Jacob to return, after twenty years, to Denmark so that the refuge can receive a huge donation. So as much as Jacob dislikes the idea, and at this point we know not why, he returns to Denmark in Susanne Bier's remarkable, emotionally charged, sometimes even overwrought "After the Wedding."
Bier has composed this film in much the same way as a Verismo opera: scenes of confrontation, scenes of enlightenment, scenes of disclosure are piled one on top of the other as the film slithers insinuatingly towards its tragic yet redemptive denouement.
All of the main characters: Jacob, Jorgen, Jorgen's wife Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen in a mature, sexy performance) and Helene and Jorgen's daughter, Anna (Stine Fischer Christiansen: young, fresh, committed) are transformed, turned around and pointed in another direction psychically and physically by film's end due to the catastrophic upheavals that they endure during the course of this amazing film. Bier is dealing with Melodrama here, with a capital "M." Melodrama done up right: not as a joke but as serious and humane as the Master's of this genre: Almodovar and Douglas Sirk ("Written on the Wind") to name a couple.
Mikkelsen's Jacob, due in a large part to Mikkelsen's hang-dog, stoic physical appearance, is an empty vessel at the beginning of this film. His work at the refuge is fulfilling and good yet you can't help feeling that Jacob is hiding from life rather than contributing to it and that his reluctance to venture back home to Denmark is his way of primarily keeping his past at arm's length. By the end, Jacob is transformed, filled up, overflowing by way of the redemptive powers of confession and acceptance: he's been opened, upended, turned inside out.
Don't come to Bier's world of "After the Wedding" expecting to be lulled into anything resembling a calm, quiet mood...you will genuinely be unsettled. Do come to "After the Wedding," in many ways similar to "The Celebration," expecting to squirm in your seat, to have your guts wrenched with the terrific bravura acting of this ensemble of actors, to cry your eyes out at scenes of transcendental beauty and truth. This film will challenge you not to react and therefore in one way or another you will react due in large part to Bier's compassionate mise en scene. A mise en scene rife with humanity and love.
on 2 September 2007
I thought that I might like this film owing to the positive reviews I had read but in reality was quite blown away by it. My top film of The London FIlm Festval 2006.
If you like an intelligent, semi-art house venture into depth of feeling, emotion and life experience you should like After The Wedding.
I was hooked from the start where our introspective thoroughly laudable hero is living in India and running an inpoverished orphanage. He is summoned to Denmark with the promise of riches galore for his project, where his past catches up with him with massive personal implications.
Gut wrenchingly emotional in parts, this is a film that I know I will enjoy seeing again and again for many years to come and I highly recommend it.
I would give After The Wedding five stars for a few scenes of great emotional power, particularly those between the daughter and her father, and her step-father. They get something that is quite rare in cinema, and while melodramatic, it does access certain truths with a sense of shock to the viewer, it is so immediate. The challenge in making it was probably how to make it hang together, which it just about does, and also how to modulate the tone, which does stay at a fairly hysterical pitch for quite a lot of the time. There is a risk of it being too much like a soap opera, which may explain the very agile camera. I didn't always like this but it was more effective than in The Tree of Life. The acting is very good indeed, and Mads Mikkelsen helps to ground the film with his understated performance - he always feels as if he has something more in reserve, and his face holds the interest - and the emotion of the moment. His first meeting alone with his daughter is particularly moving in a quiet way, both actors inhabiting the emotions of their characters in a way that comes across with great subtlety. The director Susanne Bier uses a lot of close-ups in these scenes, particularly of people's eyes - it's as it she is trying to pinpoint the surface of maximum revelation of the inner being. The film is not without its moral ambiguity, specifically asking questions about how right it can be to withhold information, and to play at being God. The patriarch businessman is a rambling, powerful figure who shows bravery but also is less than perfect, perhaps, in contacting Jacob when he does. Presumably he could have made more of an effort before, but chose not to ... There is something egotistical about this, but it also makes his altruism moving in the present, if a bit double-edged, because he is exercising the control he always has. It is a kind of psychological wrestling with Jacob, although he is a somewhat tarnished angel. This aspect of the film could have done with sharper focus, where instead there is a welter of emotion.
on 5 May 2008
This film is one of the best I have watched in a long time - quite breathtakingly good. Set In Denmark, and Bombay, it follows the story of Jacob who is asked to visit a rich businessman in Copenhagen, in order to encourage him to support the orphanage he helps run, and who is by chance, as he has nothing to do for the weekend, invited to the wedding of the duaghter of the businessman. What follows is jaw dropping and moving and, well, just tremendous. Every role is beautifully acted. Not a wrong note anywhere.
Buy this film - you will want to watch it more than once. The 'extras' are excellent too, including two interviews with Suzanne Bier.
on 18 April 2012
I loved , absolutely loved Openhearts so I had great expectations for this movie and for Mads Mikkelsen , yet I was left slighly wanting more [ maybe Ive just od ed on scandi stuff lately ] yes this movie is clever [camera angle , blink , lots of silence ] but I dont think it is as clever as it trys to be or maybe the indian scenes just had too much of a slum dog cuteness for me to actually find them real .Its an interesting moral concept that does get you thinking but I was left with a but .....
This is one of those slow-burning films that start by introducing all the characters in their different lives. Then they are brought together and gradually, through subtle images of body language and shots of glances between people, one begins to realize that there is a back-story and the emotional fire-works start to erupt. It's a multi-layered story in which the ramifications of a previous relationship interact with an emerging family trauma. It's not just a film about human relationships but also has a social conscience dimension contrasting life in an orphanage in India with that of a wealthy family in Denmark. Altogether a very moving and thought-provoking film with fine performances all round.
on 18 May 2015
This film just might be the best picture with Mads Mikkelsen, and he has done many very good films. The thing is, when he made this one, with an excellent cast brilliantly directed by Susanne Bier, none of these people were internationally famous; fame came later, with the popularity of "The Girl With a Dragon Tatoo" and series like "The Killing" and "The Bridge". And because of that fame, we now get treated to the international distribution of this great film.
This is not a crime thriller, mind you. This is drama at its best: a great cast directed by someone who can get the best out of every actor. They seem so natural, you may forget you are watching a movie. The characters are developed very well throughout the story, each with their positive and negative traits, nothing is pure "black or white"; it makes you identify with their dilemmas and how everyone is trying to do the right thing, but that generates multiple conflicts. There is no "good guys versus bad guys" here; just human interaction, beautifully displayed. For genuine drama lovers, this is highly recommended.
I really couldn't do this film justice with a quick review so take my advice (and of all the other positive reviews) and go buy this dvd. Mads Mikkelsen is amazing as usual and it makes you wonder why he was given such a poor role in the last bond film. Without a doubt one of the best films to be made in the last few years. Ok, it's a vague review but the film is just so good!