After The Wedding
Jacob Richardson | 11/09/2019
An impressive adult drama with all the complex emotional questions that will linger with you after the film grounded in superb performances from Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams and Billy Crudup.
Isabel (Michelle Williams) has dedicated her life to working with the children in an orphanage in India. This orphanage is in the process of securing a mysterious and generous grant, but to do so Isabel must travel to New York to meet the benefactor in person. That benefactor is Theresa (Julianne Moore); the multimillionaire head of a media company who lives with her artist husband Oscar (Billy Crudup) and their twin boys in New York. Before business is finalised, Theresa invites Isabel to her daughter’s wedding, and both of their lives will never be the same.
Directed by Bart Feundlich and written originally by Susanne Bier, After The Wedding isn’t the most accessible film in the world. None of these characters, in particular, are toned down to fit the traditional mould of what a character in a film should be. For many, this will make the film feel emotionless and difficult to connect with. But don’t be dissuaded - After The Wedding brings to life characters that feel like real people. There is no real protagonist/antagonist relationship here, defined in such strict terms, but instead a rich tapestry of human emotion with light, dark and confused mess inside everyone.
As Isabel, Williams does the finest job of uncompromising to portray her strong character. Isabel is focused on her work, and has done things that may be frowned upon in the past. She doesn’t pull punches, nor does she apologise for her wants and needs. Theresa is similarly strong, but in a much kinder manner. At the same time, she makes some truly questionable decisions while in the midst of an emotional crisis, which could turn a viewer against her. Perhaps the one with the most questionable decision of all is Oscar, but this is muted by his entirely in control and calm artist personality.
All three actors have moments in which they absolutely shine, showcasing their talent at the top of their game. Williams does more with her face in a single hotel room scene than most Oscar-winning actors do in a full film. Crudup has some nice moments with both actresses, but in particular one notable scene in his workshop with Williams. By far and away the standout, however, is Julianne Moore, and particularly in her final scene of the movie as she breaks down in the bedroom with Crudup. It is a piece of acting so tremendously powerful as to shock you, and will undoubtedly bring you to tears.
Amongst these three incredible performers flits a story that will shock, surprise and intrigue. If it never meets the emotional heights we want from a truly incredible dramatic film, that also feels sort of OK - adding itself to the lens of realism that this movie seems to portray. Life isn’t perfect, people aren’t perfect, and this film isn’t perfect; but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth your time.
A must see.