No Honeymoon: Our Review of ‘After The Wedding’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 15, 2019
No Honeymoon: Our Review of ‘After The Wedding’

Writer/director Bart Freundlich’s After the Wedding is a remake of a 2006 Danish film of the same name. As I haven’t seen that, this review will refer only to this 2019 adaptation without making comparisons between the two. 

Isabel (Michelle Williams) works at an orphanage in India and is summoned to New York City by Theresa (Julianne Moore), a potential benefactor. After a brief (and rather cold) meeting in the Big Apple, Theresa invites Isabel to Theresa’s daughter’s (Grace, played by Abby Quinn) wedding, in order for the women to become more familiar. The wedding dredges up memories from Isabel’s past, and sets off the rather bland series of events that follow. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t praise the acting off the top. Moore turns in the dramatically flashiest performance in the film, running the gamut between shrewd businesswoman and emotional basket case. Williams’ portrayal of Isabel is far more subtle and subdued, with Billy Crudup’s Oscar (Theresa’s husband) falling somewhere in the middle. 

Williams is an incredibly talented actress, but her performance in this film frustrated me to no end. Not that it’s bad, far from it. It is wonderfully nuanced. Isabel is an incredibly stoic character, rarely revealing her emotions. Williams does a tremendous job conveying her inner turmoil with just her eyes. Still, she has maybe two moments in the whole film that pop. Aside from that, she’s at the same level all the way through, subtext aside, and it feels as though the actress wasn’t given a chance to “play”. The whole movie feels like it’s building to an emotional purging for Isabel that never really comes. This is actually a good analogy for the film itself, but more on that later. Rounding out the cast is Quinn whose performance is certainly serviceable, with flashes of real promise. 

Sadly, the film lost me in its opening act. Admittedly the first 45 minutes were decently-written and well-acted, but still a slog that only kept me invested by the trailer’s promise of a crazy twist to come. 

After the Wedding is very melodramatic, and often feels like a Lifetime Original movie (composer Mychael Danna’s incredibly maudlin score doesn’t help), even with hints of Soap Opera. While it did get me back on board to some extent in the back half with the aforementioned twists and turns, these revelations still didn’t really amount to much, or drive me to find an emotional attachment to the characters or the situation. 

This is probably my biggest issue with the film. I recognize that what these characters are going through would be emotionally traumatic, and yet I wasn’t able to lock in. Isabel is so stoic, almost never showing any outright vulnerability, that I found myself sympathizing, but never empathizing. I simply wasn’t made to feel any kinship with the character. I did find myself somewhat drawn to Crudup and Quinn’s characters’ plights, but not in any significant or heartfelt way. As I mentioned earlier, the movie constantly feels like it’s building to something, and when that something comes, it lacks any considerable impact.

After the Wedding isn’t a bad film, and does boast some strong performances, but fails to deliver emotion on much more than a surface level, and ultimately doesn’t live up to its potential.

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