After the Wedding
(Efter Brylluppet)

mads mikkelsen

After the Wedding (Efter Brylluppet)
Made in: Denmark
Language: Danish, English, Hindi
Director: Susanne Bier
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassgård, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Stine Fischer Christensen, Christian Tafdrup
Year: 2006

Synopsis: Humanitarian Jacob Pedersen (Mads Mikkelsen) manages an orphanage in a poverty-stricken part of India. Dedicated to his work, he reluctantly returns to his native Denmark to meet billionaire businessman Jorgen Hannson (Rolf Lassgård).

Hannson has expressed interest in Jacob's cause, and considers a generous donation that would prevent Jacob's nearly bankrupt orphanage from closing.

At first Jacob feels only contempt for the filthy-rich and seemingly arrogant businessman. But things soon get complicated when Jorgen twists Jacob's arm into attending the wedding of Jorgen's daughter Anna (Stine Fischer Christensen).

There he meets Jorgen's wife Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen), with whom Jacob has a complicated history. Was this reunion a coincidence, or a strange set-up?

As Jorgen's donation to the orphanage becomes more generous, the true motivation behind his sudden philanthropy begins to reveal shocking secrets and moral dilemmas. Jacob, Helene, Jorgen, and Anna find their lives bound together as they come to terms with their past and face an uncertain future.

Remarks: After the Wedding is a compelling, emotionally intense drama full of highly authentic performances and believable characters. The versatile Mads Mikkelsen once again does a great job, and the supporting cast is tremendous as well.

Director Susanne Bier concentrates on human complexity, which is the most effective theme of this foreign film. At first we're led to believe that this will be a story of Jacob's dedication to the poor vs. Jorgen's upper-class superficiality.

But as the movie progresses, we soon realize that everyone's lives and motivations are not nearly as clear cut as we (or the characters) initially perceive them to be. Everyone is fallible, and at the same time, sympathetic.

After the Wedding also deals with the life-changing power that the ultra-wealthy can wield. We see a blend of compassion, control, selfishness, and generosity behind Jorgen's desire to help Jacob's cause.

The presentation is very realistic, and in Susanne Bier's own words, this film doesn't offer simple answers to those human factors. Rather than making the story feel incomplete, it is instead intended to make the viewers think (and debate).

Who would like this movie: This movie's for you if you like powerful, intense dramas. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, After the Wedding is an emotionally heavy piece. Although it's not a depressing movie, it's quite sobering and shouldn't be watched if you're just in the mood for something entertaining.

The subject matter, however, cuts across cultural lines. So as long as you're keeping up with the subtitles, you shouldn't have any trouble following this film. It's a very well-made character drama with a solid story, but you have to be in the mood to watch it.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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