Film: After the Wedding

Rated: M

Rating: 6/10

Starring: Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams


Weddings often bring plenty of drama, but yet-to-be-released flick After the Wedding brings so much more baggage along for the ride. Starring Academy Award-winner Julianne Moore and Academy Award-nominated Michelle Williams, this remake of a 2006 Danish film of the same name sees the co-founder of an orphanage in India, Isabel (Williams), returning to New York in order to secure a desperately needed donation from millionaire media company owner Theresa (Moore). Isabel is also invited to the wedding of Theresa’s daughter in upstate New York during her stay, but amid the expense and pageantry of the weekend, secrets and decisions from two decades ago are brought to light.

As a whole, the film is a bit of a mixed bag, with the solid and emotional performances from the cast let down by the lack of drive in the plot. It’s very difficult to get feel for where it is all leading to as it all unfolds. The film seems to rely on the next stunning revelation to keep the plot moving forward, which makes you feel as if you’re just riding out the troughs until its abrupt conclusion.

From the outset, the film seems to focus on Isabel’s quest to get funding for the orphanage, though this plot line becomes an after-thought at the very end of the film. The first sign of this change is when she attends the wedding and suspenseful string music kicks in, and the audience is having to guess why - until a few scenes later when the characters actually address all the strange lingering looks between them.

A positive aspect of the film is that there is no single antagonist, with each of the characters each briefly occupying the role. As the story moves along and truths come to light, the characters view one or more of each other in an opposing light - either as lying, manipulating or cowardly - but ultimately, they are shown to be human and struggling to make the right decision in difficult situations. No-one up and decides to run off, but they often confront each other in very human ways.

The film also often compares, at least through Isabel’s eyes, the feeling of hustle, materialism and stress in New York against the quieter and often happier setting of the orphanage in India. It gives a good feel for why Isabel is so desperate to return, even after the revelations she finds over the course of her trip.

The film boasts a cast of heavy-hitting actors who really stood out despite the uneven script. Julianne Moore gives an incredible, emotionally charged performance as her character goes through turbulent moments, all the while hiding so many secrets of her own. In addition, Michelle Williams plays her determined and quiet protagonist well, but I can’t help but feel that the script isn’t all that fair to her character, Isabel.

While a number of the other characters comment and speculate who she is, Isabel doesn’t actually get much of a chance to explain her decisions or motivations except for in a short scene. There’s so much left open about her past that the characters themselves know but never explain, which the audience can only guess at.

After the Wedding will be released in cinemas from October 24.


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