Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: After the Wedding (2006)

Helene (Knudsen) and Jacob (Mikkelsen) reunited.
Directed by Susanne Bier
Produced by Sisse Graume Jørgensen
Written by Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen
Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassgard, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Stine Fischer Christensen, and Christian Tafdrup


Susanne Bier's Oscar-nominated film is a perfect example of human drama told with raw emotion. When the idealistic Jacob (Mikkelsen) leaves his Indian orphanage to meet a potential investor named Jørgen (Lassgard), he is invited to Jørgen's daughter's wedding. However, he meets Jørgen's wife Helene (Knudsen) there, who happens to be Jacob's ex-girlfriend. After the bride's speech reveals that Jørgen is not her father, Jacob discovers that he is her actual father. In addition, Jørgen reveals that he is dying. Once this has all been laid bare, the four are left to sort out the emotional damage, while the investment deal is completed. A film this packed with drama is especially rewarding when it is done right.

And is it ever. Foreign filmmakers seem more keen on a good story, and Bier's film continues this pattern. With the exception of Mikkelsen (of Casino Royale fame), the cast is mostly unknowns, and it is remarkably good. Acting in a story like this can appear forced or overdone, but the performances here are naturalistic, genuine portrayals of a family thrown into a desperate situation. It is refreshing to see a film that has no pretense, just presence. The film is a simple look at this family's relationships; and a lack of sappy dialogue, heavy-handed performances, and a blaring score is most welcome. While the noise around it has faded, this movie deserves more recognition and should be seen by more people.

Oscar Tally: Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film

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