After The Wedding

***

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

After The Wedding
"It’s all watchable enough if lacking real dramatic tension." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Family sagas have a certain hypnotic fascination for many viewers - and in this one, director Bart Freundlich puts it through the mill for a second time. With the original director’s blessing, he has refashioned Susanne Bier’s Oscar-nominated Danish title and refocused it on Long Island and, to lend a different dynamic, swapped the genders of the leads.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but most remakes struggle to trump the first inspiration.

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Freundlich delivers an old-fashioned take as personal revelations unfurl to a rather contrived denouement. That doesn’t stop the main actors from flexing their performance muscles to some effect especially Julianne Moore as business supremo Theresa and Billy Crudup as her supportive artist husband Oscar.

Michelle Williams on the other hand seems overly constrained by her character of Isabel, first glimpsed meditating at an orphanage on the outskirts of Calcutta. She keeps her charges off the streets and gives them succour, developing a particular attachment to one delightful wide-eyed young boy Jai (Vir Pachisia) whom she has brought up since he was discovered abandoned on the streets.The orphanage needs a desperate injection of funds and Isabel is delegated to fly to New York to seek a benefactor in Theresa’s media company.

The contrast between the rigours of life in India and the plush lifestyle of the New Yorkers could not be more acute. Isabel arrives to find Theresa involved in the preparations for the wedding of her daughter Grace (an excellent portrayal by newcomer Abby Quinn) to a young company executive Joathan (Alex Esola).

She is invited to attend so that Theresa can prolong their discussions after the weekend. Isabel clearly disapproves of the lavish hospitality on display and looks thoroughly uncomfortable, not least because of the emerging shared history revealed between her and Oscar. Soon it becomes clear where we’re heading, while a painful secret emerges that provides an explanation for Theresa’s rather erratic behavioural patterns. No one does drink-fuelled inner angst better than Moore.

Freundlich as writer-director has made six features, starting with 1997's The Myth Of Fingerprints, many of them starring his wife Moore, and he demonstrates a gift for extracting fine performances from his cast including the lesser known names.

It’s all watchable enough if lacking real dramatic tension while there is no convincing conclusion about the imperative of remaking the original other than there was an easily accessible narrative available.

Reviewed on: 29 Jun 2019
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When a woman seeking funds for an Indian orphanage heads to NYC to meet a wealthy benefactor, the past collides with the present.


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