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After the Wedding Review

By Shawn McKenzie 06/13/2007

The Synopsis:

A Danish man named Jacob Peterson (Mads Mikkelsen) is the founder of a Bombay orphanage in India.  He is a caring man who specifically cares for a specific orphan named Pramod (Neeral Mulchandani), who will be celebrating his eighth birthday in a few days.  The director of the orphanage, Mrs. Shaw (Meenal Patel) tells him that they are on the verge of bankruptcy, and that they need some money fast.  He decides to meet with Jørgen Hansson (Rolf Lassgård), a self-made Danish billionaire who has offered to fund the orphanage as one of his philanthropic projects.  Jacob hasn’t lived in his home country in about twenty years…and he really has no desire to go back…but he grits his teeth and takes the meeting anyway.  It seems that the meeting will take place after the wedding of Jørgen’s 20-year-old daughter Anna Louisa (Stine Fischer Christensen) to an employee of Jørgen named Christian Refner (Christian Tafdrup.)  At the wedding, Jacob meets Jørgen, Anna and Christian, Jørgen’s twin sons Martin (Frederik Gullits Ernst) and Morten (Kristian Gullits Ernst), and Jørgen’s wife Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen.)  Jacob is a little surprised to see Helene…because he once had a relationship with her back when he used to live in Denmark.  They broke up because he was constantly cheating on her.  When Anna remarks during the reception that Jørgen isn’t her biological father, Jacob slowly realizes that Anna is his daughter…and that Jørgen had ulterior motives for bringing him there.

The Review:

Just because a movie is nominated in a major category, doesn’t mean that it is entertaining.  A perfect example would be Efter brylluppet, a.k.a. After the Wedding.

The movie was nominated this year in the Best Foreign Language Feature category, but it lost out to Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others.)  Ironically, that movie is a little boring as well (the real winner should have been Pan’s Labyrinth…but that is another matter entirely.)

Why was After the Wedding not entertaining, despite its awards kudos?  It’s because the movie is so depressing.  Anyone who is a frequent reader of Entertain Your Brain knows that I’m not a big fan of depressing movies (unless they star Nicholas Cage.)  Maybe it’s my fault.  From reading the synopsis and briefly watching the trailer before I saw the movie, I assumed that it would be a cute, soap opera-like movie about a wedding.  They got the soap opera right…but cute it is not.  About a little over an hour in, I was checking the clock on my cell phone frequently, hoping for the movie to end soon (that’s never a good sign.)  The movie was only about two hours, but it felt longer.

The acting was okay, but I really couldn’t get over Mikkelsen.  I know I should take an actor’s performance in each movie that he or she is in as individual performances, but I just kept seeing Mikkelsen as Bond baddie Le Chiffre from last year’s Casino Royale.  He did that role so well, and he has that distinctive look, that I couldn’t see him as a good guy in this movie (that bad guy look is unfortunately inflicted on Batman Begins’ Cillian Murphy as well.)  It was hard for me to think that Jacob cared for Pramod when all I could see was the man possibly scaring the kid.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ending of After the Wedding isn’t exactly happy (based on your definition of “happy.”)  Danish director Susanne Bier co-wrote the screenplay with fellow Danish screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen.  This is the third collaboration between Bier and Jensen, following 2003’s Open Hearts (Elsker dig for evigt) and 2004’s Brothers (Brødre.)  I don’t know if they were as depressing as this one, but I have a feeling that they were (Open Hearts is actually a Dogme 95 movie, which means that it followed a strict set of rules made to make it “pure”…a.k.a. boring.)  Bier and Jensen are tentatively making a movie called The Duchess next year…and somehow, I bet it won’t be anymore interesting than this movie.  So…it will probably be nominated for an Oscar.

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