Sunday, September 11, 2016
52 Films By Women: After The Wedding (2006)
After The Wedding follows the story of a man named Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen) who helps run an orphanage in India but is called up to negotiate with a businessman in Denmark named Jorgen (Rolf Lassgaard). During his stay, Jacob becomes a guest at Jorgen's daughter's wedding and when he runs into Jorgen's wife (Sidse Babett Knudsen), a labyrinth of secrets and lies becomes revealed.
I love how director Susanne Bier chose to have the film be shot on hand held, giving it a very authentic and documentary feel. It also helps brings back the Dogme 95 movement initiated by Danish filmmakers where they established certain rules to make a film feel closer to real life without the heavy use of special effects or technical gimmicks in order to emphasize on performance and storytelling.
There are key scenes where Bier is able to let the camera and the fast editing do a lot of the talking. One is a scene in the wedding where as the bride is making a toast and a secret becomes inadvertently revealed, the camera quickly cuts back and forth from Mikkelsen to Knudsen. So we are able to realize the twist but we don't need much dialogue to do so. I applaud Bier for not trusting her audience and hardly ever resorting to exposition to explain the ongoing storyline.
I also want to give credit to the main actors. Mads Mikkelsen is a master at playing people who are refined in the face of chaos like in The Hunt and Casino Royale where he plays the main villain Le Chiffre. Here his refined portrayal is just as masterful. Rolfe Lassgaard to me is a scene stealer as Jorgen, a man who appears well-meaning and has a laid back feel but plays with other people as if they are his puppets. I also want to give a shoutout to Stine Fischer Christensen who plays Jorgen's daughter. In a film about a web of lies and shady secrets, Christensen brings a tremendous amount of heart and honesty.
Overall, After The Wedding is a masterful throwback to an older filmmaking movement that understands the importance of what helps make a movie work so well. In a day and age full of redundant tentpole sequels and unneeded reboots, it is movies like this which give me hope that there are great stories out there waiting to be told.