Michelle Williams plays Isobel, a committed American aid worker working in an Indian orphanage. When their funding is cut, it turns out that their American benefactor (Julianne Moore) is only prepared to increase the funding on the condition that Isobel comes to New York. Reluctantly, Isobel leaves both her heart and the orphanage behind. However, what awaits will challenge her in ways that she never thought possible.
Updated and substantially recast compared to its Danish original, Bart Freundlich’s 2019 After The Wedding is a jagged little pill of decaffeinated intentions. Awkwardly confusing its tone by endearingly building up Michelle Williams’s character, her greeting in the US quickly becomes a hackneyed handbook for white entitlement. Increasingly skipping vital beats in the development of its other characters, any subtlety is heavily splashed in black and white.
Intentionally squandering any opportunity to fully examine a character caught between two cultures, the theme of aid work quickly becomes a backdrop to a lovelessly dry melodrama. Washing its characters’ backstories in the advertised aftermath of a family wedding, residual sympathies are judiciously meted out of the back of a disappearing script.
Reaching for something akin to Nocturnal Animals’ flailing grasp for sympathy, After The Wedding’s identikit intentions are writ the largest on Billy Crudup’s limp apologies. Underwritten and left to fend for himself on the periphery of any real intrigue, the film’s central love triangle loudly clangs with a climax that never rings true.
Unsure to where exactly where to leave either you, its audience or even its own characters, After The Wedding then decides to break the central tenet of its climatic bargain, and meekly rolls out a feel-good ending in the hope that you don’t notice its contradiction.
For a movie that unwittingly pitches itself at the target of its own ire, After The Wedding is likely to only appeal to those in need of first world consolation. Framed in a real-world tragedy whose specifics, it would really rather avoid, the film becomes another attractive painting whose virtues crack easily in the sunlight of any serious consideration.
Mills & Boon-lite, this is another movie where the cast is the only thing to recommend about it. Whether this remake chimes with you really does depend on your tolerance for blow-dried saccharine. See the 2006 original instead.
After The Wedding | Directed by Bart Freundlich (US, 2019), with Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup. Starts Oct 17.
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