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After the Wedding
Review by Rich Cline |
dir-scr Bart Freundlich
prd Harry Finkel, Julianne Moore, Bart Freundlich, Joel B Michaels, Silvio Muraglia
with Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup, Abby Quinn, Alex Esola, Susan Blackwell, Vir Pachisia, Azhy Robertson, Tre Ryder, Eisa Davis, Will Chase, Greta Quispe
release US 9.Aug.19,
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
In remaking the 2006 Danish drama, filmmaker Bart Freundlich swaps genders, casting his wife Julianne Moore in a lead role. Well, you can never go wrong with Moore, and Michelle Williams is just as reliable opposite her. But the story feels melodramatic now, and its twisty plot is underpowered. Still, the surprises pack a powerful emotional punch, played to the hilt by Moore, Williams and company.
After working in an orphanage in India for decades, Isabel (Williams) is called to New York to receive a huge donation from businesswoman Theresa (Moore). She also invites Isabel to attend the marriage of her daughter Grace (Quinn) to her assistant Jonathan (Esola). But on the big day, Isabel is shocked to see that Theresa's husband is Oscar (Crudup), because they knew each other as teens. And they're not the only ones with a secret that's about to come out, shaking everyone's lives to the core.
Filmed in that too-picturesque American style, each scene is simply beautiful, with lavish drone shots, impeccable make-up and costumes, and spotless sets that clearly aren't lived-in, both in New York and India. There are also some issues with side characters who appear and disappear along the way. Thankfully, the acting is so open and emotive that it overcomes the artificiality, layering in messy emotions and complex reactions beneath the slick surface. Which of course is the entire point.
Moore has the colourful role here, as her character goes through a series of intense gyrations. Not only does she find all kinds of resonant textures in Theresa's actions and reactions, but she also takes Crudup on the emotional rollercoaster with her. By contrast, Williams adeptly plays Isabel as sensitive but contained, trying to keep feelings to herself. Isabel's situation has some mind-boggling angles to it, and Williams beautifully underplays each scene.
With its secrets and revelations, this film feels like a storm concocted to torment its characters; it requires actors of this calibre to sell the theatrical plot turns. Perhaps if Freundlich had made the movie a little grittier, there might have been a more powerful urgency to the events as they unfold, and a better contrast between earthy India and opulent America. Because Theresa and Oscar's frankly obscene wealth makes it almost impossible to feel much sympathy for them. And Isabel's almost saintly role is also somewhat distant. So in the end, it's Quinn's Grace who catches the attention most vividly.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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