Based on Susanne Bier’s Academy Award-nominated 2006 Danish film of the same name, Bart Freundlich’s “After The Wedding” (Sony Pictures Classics) is the second of his Oscar-winning wife Julianne Moore’s 2019 Hollywood remakes of acclaimed foreign films.
Isabel (Michelle Williams, who just keeps getting better and better) is an American ex-pat living in Kolkata where she runs an orphanage. When Theresa (Julianne Moore), a wealthy donor to the orphanage requests a meeting with Isabel in New York, she has no choice to but attend. Otherwise she risks losing funding. This means leaving behind young Jai (Vir Pachisia), a boy whom Isabel has been watching over at the orphanage. But she promises him she will be back in time for his birthday. You don’t need a crystal ball to know that Isabel will be unable to keep that promise.
(Via Sony Pictures)
In New York, uber-rich media mogul Theresa sings along with Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” in her new Lincoln Navigator as she pulls up to her estate where she lives with her sculptor husband Oscar (Billy Crudup) and twin sons Otto (Azhy Robertson) and Theo (Tre Ryder). It’s the weekend of the wedding of her older daughter Grace (Abby Quinn) to Jonathan (Alex Esola). Grace, adopted by Theresa when she married single father Oscar, is under the impression that her birth mother is dead.
As is immediately obvious, Isabel and Theresa live lives that are worlds apart. When Isabel is taken by limo to her Manhattan hotel room, given a cell phone and told that she has a driver available to her at all times, you can see that she is experiencing a heavy dose of culture shock. But that’s nothing compared to the shocks that follow.
At the wedding, some, but not all, of the movie’s surprises are revealed. Not only is Oscar Grace’s father, but Isabel is her mother. Isabel, who fled the country following Grace’s birth, was led to believe that the baby would be put up for adoption. However, one day shy of the time limit for giving up the baby, Oscar decides to keep and raise her, unbeknownst to Isabel.
Lacking all kinds of subtlety (see Oscar’s deer-in-headlights expression when he recognizes Isabel at the wedding), “After The Wedding” then takes viewers on a roller coaster of emotions. There are confrontations, reunions, admissions of hidden illnesses, and a barrage of occasionally predictable twists. Nevertheless, Williams and Moore (whose “I don’t want to die” scene verges on Oscar-worthy) make “After the Wedding” worth attending.