Starring Julianne Moore. Rated PG
After the Wedding continues the grand tradition of securing the rights to much-admired European films and then draining all the personality out of them.
The original was no great shakes. Danish director Susan Bier and frequent co-writer Anders Thomas Jensen favour melodramatic potboilers with a light layer of social messaging.
Their films are small-scaled enough to maintain some indie cred, and to give space to top-flight actors—in this case to Bond veteran Mads Mikkelsen as an orphanage director reluctantly meeting rich dude Rolf Lassgård (A Man Called Ove), and discovering he’s married to Westworld’s Sidse Babett Knudsen, Mads’ long-ago ex.
In writer-director Bart Freundlich’s luxuriously shot version, the genders have been flipped, and Michelle Williams, called Isabel, is the expat raising money for her Indian orphanage.
One-percenter Theresa is a Manhattan media mogul played by Julianne Moore, who’s married to Freundlich in real life. Her screen hubby is Almost Famous’s Billy Crudup, as successful artist Oscar, currently helping teen daughter Grace (Abby Quinn) prepare for her own wedding, to one of mother Theresa’s callow employees (Alex Esola).
Newly invited Isabel stumbles into this set-up, at the family’s lush upstate retreat, making an already tense scene more complicated. Get where we’re going with this?
Trailers put the main spoiler up front, and the movie is quite anxious to reach its conflict points quickly, even before characters are established. The rich can be caring sorts, while a do-gooder might be stiff and unyielding.
Indeed, Williams plays Isabel as if she’s suffering through a permanent sinus headache. Turns out Theresa has worse.
The weakest link is Crudup’s Oscar, a formerly golden god who gets to explain youthful transgressions with leaden lines like “It was a lot to manage, but I did my best.”
The whole movie suffers from that kind of flatness.
The contrasts here—between rich and poor, first world and third, Hollywood and Scandinavia—really don’t have much to do with a tale that’s far more soap than substance.