What seems a Big Little Lies-adjacent foundation transforms into something quite unexpected as After the Wedding blossoms into an insular drama built up over decades is forced to resolve itself in a matter of days. We meet two women — Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams — who are worlds apart, in every feasible metric.
One, Isabel (Williams), runs a non-profit in India. She spends her days teaching orphaned youths about mediation, stretching meals to feed more mouths and reveling in her removal from the rest of the wide world. The other, Theresa (Moore), runs a thriving business in New York, is deep in the throes of preparing for her daughter’s upcoming wedding and is radiant with joy — she belts Lady Gaga alone in her car, which must account for at least a portion of this, but she’s also rich and fulfilled, having it all, as they say.
After the Wedding brings these worlds crashing together in ways expected and unexpected. And when that happens, these two formidable leads do what we’ve come to expect of them. Michelle Williams plays Isabel as remote and unknowable, almost as isolated as Ryan Gosling’s take on Neil Armstrong. It’s a befuddling choice for the person in this world who has dedicated her life to giving back, but as the story unfolds new layers emerge. Even the depths Williams ultimately mines are nothing to Moore, who does as she always does and casts an impossible spell. On a dime, she shifts from sharp and acidic to vulnerable and heartbreaking, always beckoning us through twists and turns to the ultimate reveal.
There’s not a character in After the Wedding who won’t leave you frustrated, but you’ll find yourself forever in each of their corners, rooting for them to find a way through the web they have to walk. After the Wedding is a remake of the Danish film of the same name, so while it’s not a wholly new innovation, it’s a spellbinding story with heavyweight talent to bring the emotional journey to an impressive crescendo.
After the Wedding
Director: Bart Freundlich
Writer: Susanne Bier (original screenplay), Bart Freundlich and Anders Thomas Jensen (screenplay)
Runtime: 1h 50min
Release Date: TBD
Main Image Credit: Courtesy Sundance Film Festival