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After the Wedding (R)





Release Date: March 30th, 2007 (Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas) by IFC Films.
The Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Rolf Lassgård, Stine Fischer Christensen, Mona Malm, Christian Tafdrup, Niels Anders Thorn. Directed by Susanne Bier.
In Danish, Swedish and Hindi with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: Jacob (Mikkelsen), a manager of an orphanage in India, travels to the Denmark to meet a benefactor, Jorgen (Lassgård), and attends the wedding of Jorgen’s daughter, Anna (Christensen), where he happens to recognize Helene (Knudsen), Jorgen’s wife.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: After the Wedding succeeds in being a taut, riveting drama. Jacob works at an orphanage in India where he feels attached to many of the kids. He receives word that a benefactor wants to donate $4 million to the orphanage, but, in order to get the money, he must meet him face-to-face in Denmark. Little does he know, and little does that audience know, that he when he arrives in Denmark, he gets more than he expected. Jorgen, the benefactor, turns out to be a smarmy, alcoholic man and convinces him to stay a bit longer there to attend the wedding of his daughter, Anna. When he meets Jorgen’s wife, Helene, and recognizes her from his past, that’s when everything changes. Mads Mikkelsen, who played the villain in Casino Royale, gives a very impressive performance here, but the stand-out, by far, is Rolf Lassgård as Jorgen. Lassgård masters a wide range of raw emotions quite well, especially during the very intense third act. Screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen weaves a delicate, absorbing plot with complex characters and includes a few surprising twists which never seem gimmicky. The second act does occasionally drag, but the drama quickly picks up again and keeps you riveted at every turn. Director Susanne Bier skillfully uses some extreme close ups and shaky camera movements which reflects the unease that Jacob goes through. She unfolds the plot at a slow pace while never sacrificing character development and rarely allows any scenes to seem too melodramatic or contrived.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The way that Jorgen changes from a smarmy, cold man into a much more sensitive individual feels quite moving, especially when he has an emotional break down toward the end. Everyone has to look themselves in the mirror at some point and realize that they made mistakes. In many cases, they might end up being unexpectedly punished for their mistakes, but the most devastatingly painful moment for them is when they realize their weaknesses and, after all, their humanity.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0

IN A NUTSHELL: Profoundly absorbing. A riveting, taut drama full of surprises.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater.


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