Far from home, Jacob (Casino Royale villain, Mads Mikkelsen), runs a struggling orphanage in one India?s poorest regions. Desperate to save the orphanage from closure, he returns to Denmark to meet Jorgen (Rolf Lassgard) a... more » wealthy businessman and potential benefactor. What appears to be nothing more than a friendly gesture to attend a wedding sets in motion an increasingly devastating series of surprises, revelations, and confessions that will forever change their lives.« less
Leah G. (Leahbelle) from NIPOMO, CA Reviewed on 6/28/2015...
This was a moving story, well acted, well presented, captivating. I can see why it was up for an Academy Award.
You Can't Go Home Again
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 04/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jacob, doing humanitarian work at an Indian children's refuge, (the erstwhile "Casino Royale" villain, Mads Mikkelsen) doesn't know what to think when his superior tells him that a prospective benefactor ( Rolf Lassgard in a heart wrenching performance as Jorgen) requires Jacob to return, after twenty years, to Denmark so that the refuge can receive a huge donation. So as much as Jacob dislikes the idea, and at this point we know not why, he returns to Denmark in Susanne Bier's remarkable, emotionally charged, sometimes even overwrought "After the Wedding." Bier has composed this film in much the same way as a Verismo opera: scenes of confrontation, scenes of enlightenment, scenes of disclosure are piled one on top of the other as the film slithers insinuatingly towards its tragic yet redemptive denouement. All of the main characters: Jacob, Jorgen, Jorgen's wife Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen in a mature, sexy performance) and Helene and Jorgen's daughter, Anna (Stine Fischer Christiansen: young, fresh, committed) are transformed, turned around and pointed in another direction psychically and physically by film's end due to the catastrophic upheavals that they endure during the course of this amazing film. Bier is dealing with Melodrama here, with a capital "M." Melodrama done up right: not as a joke but as serious and humane as the Master's of this genre: Almodovar and Douglas Sirk ("Written on the Wind") to name a couple. Mikkelsen's Jacob, due in a large part to Mikkelsen's hang-dog, stoic physical appearance, is an empty vessel at the beginning of this film. His work at the refuge is fulfilling and good yet you can't help feeling that Jacob is hiding from life rather than contributing to it and that his reluctance to venture back home to Denmark is his way of primarily keeping his past at arm's length. By the end, Jacob is transformed, filled up, overflowing by way of the redemptive powers of confession and acceptance: he's been opened, upended, turned inside out. Don't come to Bier's world of "After the Wedding" expecting to be lulled into anything resembling a calm, quiet mood...you will genuinely be unsettled. Do come to "After the Wedding," in many ways similar to "The Celebration," expecting to squirm in your seat, to have your guts wrenched with the terrific bravura acting of this ensemble of actors, to cry your eyes out at scenes of transcendental beauty and truth. This film will challenge you not to react and therefore in one way or another you will react due in large part to Bier's compassionate mise en scene. A mise en scene rife with humanity and love. "
"Can't Buy Me Love"
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 05/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"`After the Wedding,' Denmark's "Best Foreign Picture" nominee for the Academy Awards has a lot going for it. Even if there is a soap opera feel to the scenes and the story, the quality is head and shoulders above any serial. Not to mention the fact we get six months of development in one movie. Solid performances, and camera shots that capture every revealing reaction give the story a magnetic interest.
The film begins in India where Jacob Pedersen (Mads Mikkelson) works with the impoverished. He feels at home with the children, but he goes back to Denmark to raise funds for the orphanage and get reacquainted with his family. At home his former love Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen) has married a tycoon, Jorgen Hanson (Rolf Lassgard), someone Jacob is able to solicit funding with ease. Once they meet, he is invited to their daughter's wedding. Much like `Rumor Has It' with far less laughs, yet more substantive development, Jacob finds out at the reception that he has more at stake at home than he previously thought. From there he is reattached to deceptive Helene, and both must sort out the bitter resentment they feel for one another. (Did he have one affair as he says or was he the philanderer by her account?) Toasting her mother and step-father at the wedding, the bride Anna (Stine Fischer Christensen) later comes to grip with life-changing information in her own life.
Skillfully sorting out the relationships and priorities of the key players, `After the Wedding,' presents a bitter-sweet story with memorable characters and interesting circumstances. One of the merits of the film is how it defines poverty in India and compares it with a different kind of impoverishment for the wealthy. Jorgan's problems wouldn`t make us trade places with him for the world. Similarly, one of the boys at the orphanage reminds Jacob that he doesn't even like the wealthy. Another ironically says, "If I were rich, I'd be happy." Watching everyone come to grips with their lives and barter for stability make `After the Wedding` a revealing family portrait.
"Do I Have to Live on the Other Side of the World to Get You
Connoisseur Rat | 04/16/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Early on in Susanne Bier's Oscar Nominated (Best Foreign Film 2006) film "After The Wedding", Danish expat-in-India Jacob (the solid Mads Mikkelsen) is faced with the prospect of reluctantly returning to his homeland after twenty years to meet with a mysterious man who is offering the necessary funding to keep his school/orphanage open. When explaining to Pramod (his adopted son-of-sorts) that he must leave, the precocious eight year old asks about the wealth of people in Denmark and finally concludes, "If I was rich, I'd be happy."
Soon after, when we delve deeply into the lives of the proposed benefactor and his family, we see that this proclamation certainly does not apply to all people. Or, at the very least, it definitely does not apply to billionaire Jorgen (the authoritative Rolf Lassgard) or his family.
Although it seems like it might at first. The jump from the teeming Indian squalor to the lush green Danish countryside almost jarringly illustrates the contrast of cultures (and that contrast is definitely underscored by patriarch Jorgen blasting "It's Raining Men" in his SUV); the disparity between the Third World and the First World is indeed extreme (the difference is Two Worlds, by the way - I did the math). It's quite comical to see Jacob, upon arrival, trying to adjust to the cushy confines of the hotel where Jorgen houses him, as he can't figure out how to work the electronic amenities.
When Jacob finally meets with Jorgen, his pitch is given short shrift by the busy billionaire: "We're through," Jorgen says impatiently, leaving Jacob's presentation video mostly unseen. But he still leaves the donational door a bit ajar as he invites him to his daughter's wedding, where Jacob could get some more face time. This seems like a good plan at first, as Jacob has nothing else to do while in town, but revelations at the ensuing reception reveal that all is not as it seems. Indeed, when newly-betrothed bride Anna (played by perky Stine Fischer Christensen) rises to make an unconventional speech and says, "Mom's waiting for something to go horribly wrong," well it turns out that Mom (aka Helene) (Sidse Babett Knudsen, in a deeply-layered performance) doesn't have to wait long, and all of their lives are soon turned upside-down.
As an unabashed fan of Scandinavian cinema, I had high expectations for this film, and it didn't disappoint in most respects. The crisp, naturalistic cinematography and unapologetic (although occasionally a bit melodramatic) exploration of emotions is all to be expected. Also always welcome are the sardonic, dry lines of humor and the quirky characters (such as online gambler Grandma, who - according to Helene - is senile "only when she wants to be" and is mostly seen complaining about her laptop's wireless internet reception).
A couple of aspects of this film didn't quite work for me, however. First, I found the multitude (maybe between 20-30 close-ups) of shots of single eyes was a bit overdone and took me out of the narrative flow, without having enough of a symbolic upside. Also, some of the scenes teetered just at the edge of being a bit too maudlin and soap-operatic, but I guess life sometimes does get that way, and the actors are never unconvincing.
Finally, some of the tonal shifts were a bit too uneven in places, as the film careens from joy to sorrow in split-seconds that can be unnerving in such an otherwise slowly-paced film. But about that pacing: others may complain that this film could have been a bit cut to a more streamlined length, but I personally love the lingering and the loitering that takes place in movies like this - I feel we get to know as much about the characters during their "down time" as we would when there's "something happening."
Ultimately, I feel this film ends up being an evocative exploration of whether or not to to tell the truth, of when to tell the truth, and of how to tell the truth even when it's difficult. And telling the truth when it's difficult is something this movie is very good at doing. Four stars.
(p.s. I'm purposely not telling you who says this review's title quote because I don't want to spoil it for you.)"
"After the Wedding" -- a masterpiece
R. A. Jasany | 08/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"AFTER THE WEDDING (EFTER BRYLLUPPET) (A+)
I was just coming off my euphoric high from "The Lives of Others," a Cold War era story of self-discovery and redemption in the desperately paranoiac last years of the East German Stasi, when along comes an exquisite Danish film about reconnecting lives, second chances, and noble deeds called "After the Wedding," written and directed by Susanne Bier, that all but left me hyperventilating. Both films are as freehanded and frank as they are forgiving while penetrating with astute precision the flawed, enigmatic, but accessible souls that populate their narratives. Both explore the murky issues of power, trust, self-interest, honor, morality, and spirituality. Without sentimentality or the manipulation of our responses, both end on an upbeat, if uncertain note of hopefulness.
"After the Wedding" is often extraordinary for what is left unsaid -- Bier, with 20-20 vision of her story and its implications, believes in an economy of words and the generous use of camera close-ups to capture nuances in expression, gesture, mannerism, and body language, as her characters have stirring encounters with one another. Of course, that approach takes for granted the keen insights and instincts of her actors and how fully invested they are in their roles. Those assumptions are never in doubt with the cast of "After the Wedding," which is headed by Mads Mikkelsen as Jacob Petersen, a rugged, hands-on humanitarian and, in some cases, surrogate father, who administers a food-aid program for orphaned children in India.
The promise of a windfall gift from a wealthy Copenhagen industrialist named Jorgen (Rolf Lassgard) that will underwrite construction of an orphanage takes Jacob back to his native soil for somewhat delicate negotiations. There are terms and conditions to iron out before the transfer of funds can be implemented, so Jacob is obliged to be obliging to his benefactor for a few days. As it happens, the wedding of Jorgen's only daughter Anna coincides with Jacob's stay, and the affable billionaire is graciously adamant that Jacob attend, though our hero is clearly more at home with grit than glitz.
Just after the ceremony itself, Jacob encounters a coincidental and shocking link with his past and, later, a stunning revelation about the present, that saddles him with a potentially life-altering dilemma. What follows is an urgent and deeply affecting melodrama, in its most distinguished form, that explores with brilliant clarity and aching humanity the yin and yang of allegiances, moral ambiguities, and, in the end, a decision that tests the mettle of a man torn between two callings.
Mikkelsen, seen for the first time by most American moviegoers as the villain Le Chiffre in last year's James Bond prequel, "Casino Royale," is a magnetic actor, in the mold of Clive Owen, Gerard Butler, Christian Bale, and Russell Crowe, who commands the screen with his ideally constructed frame, chiseled cheekbones, and wide eyes that peer icily and inscrutably, probe menacingly, and well up tenderheartedly as befits a complex character haunted by a less-than-impeccable past and confronted with having to make intelligent judgments and agonizing choices that will change the entire landscape of his future.
But "After the Wedding" is almost as much Lassgard's film, as he transitions from impregnable corporate mogul with appearances of ulterior magnanimity to gentle giant in the ultimate state of vulnerability. He has a scene near the end of "After the Wedding" that's as exhaustively heart-rending as any I've seen on film.
Like "The Lives of Others," "After the Wedding" was an entry in last year's Oscar sweepstakes for Best Foreign Language Film, but wasn't placed in general U.S. release until the first quarter of 2007. They'll be tough competition for the wave of late year entries that usually dominate my "Dazzling Dozen.""
Reader | Boca Raton, FL | 08/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film was rightfully nominated for the Academy Award. It is a story of a Danish man living in self exposed exile in India. One is wondering if his charity work in orphanage is his life's calling, or a character's way of punishing oneself for life choices made long ago. As money for the orphanage is dwindling, the benefactor appears offering financial help. But like every charity, this one has a catch too. Scenes from having main character Jacob return from Indian subcontinent to Europe show his displacement in the world he originated from. It is obvious that he has been away for too long and everything, from his beautiful, tanned face to the suit he is wearing looks awkward in his new surrounding. It feels as if he almost wishes to leap back to India and his familiar surroundings in orphanage. And from this point on, story starts developing with surprises on every step along the way. Emotional intensity keeps building and building. I have not seen a movie so powerful like this one since "Barbarian Invasions". This is a story of redemption, love, forgiveness and new beginings. And like most of those things, it comes wih a high price..."