Bart Freundlich’s ”After The Wedding” is a Sundance-premiered family saga that also happens to be a remake of Susanne Bier’s Oscar-nominated Danish film. Writer-director Freundlich wants to examine the ways that money, love and fate shape our futures and he does that by having two indisputably great actresses.(Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams) carrying the load of sentimentally-driven drama forward.
Much like Bier’s film, the plot revolves around Isabel (Williams) working at a badly unfunded Indian orphanage. Opportunity strikes when Theresa (Moore), a wealthy entrepreneur about to sell her company, has decided to finance Isabel’s center. However, for the donation to be completed, Isabel needs to come to New York to personally meet with Theresa. The meeting eventually leads to Theresa inviting Isabel to the wedding of her daughter Grace (Abby Quinn) . But when Isabel arrives at the wedding, she realizes that she personally knows Theresa’s husband Oscar (Billy Crudup). I won’t go further than that since the film is built on a twist-filled foundation.
Moore’s performance is rooted in the fact that her Theresa is a somewhat controlling figure, whereas Williams’ Isabel is more pondersome and cautious. Crudup’s husband does not reveal his cards, but demonstrates himself as a loving husband, despite an all-too shady past. There is no doubt a social message trying to be divulged in “After the Wedding,” that of the damaging separation between the working class and the elites, but it’s overshadowed by the film’s knack for soap-opera-like twists. It doesn’t help that Williams’ Isabel feels just too insignificantly distanced from the proceedings and that, in the final few minutes, Freundlich decides to thrust her into the kind of sentimental drama that rings false.
The posh setting that the film ends up embracing is a major misstep on the part of the filmmaker as well. The bevy of social hierarchical distrust towards the elites in the 21st century has immunized us from feeling sorry for many of the problems of the “white-privileged.” In ‘After the Wedding,” the crux of the dilemmas being presented feel unimportant and unrewarding because we couldn’t care less about America’s social elites. Sure, Wiliams’ Isabel represents the counter-argument of this problem, what with her knack for championing the underdogs through charity work in India, but even she ends up selling her soul to corporate malevolence in the end. [C-]