Friday, December 27, 2019

After the Wedding (2019)

After the Wedding / After the Wedding.
    US © 2019 ATW Distro, LLC. PC: Ingenious Media / Riverstone Pictures / Rock Island Films present a Joel B. Michaels production / P: Joel B. Michaels, Harry Finkel, Julianne Moore, Bart Freundlich. Silvio Muraglia.
    D+SC: Bart Freundlich – based on the film Efter brylluppet (Susanne Bier, DK 2008), story by Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen. DP: Julio Macat – colour – 2,39:1 – digital – digital intermediate 4K. PD: Grace Yun. AD: Starlet Jacobs, Jayashree Lakshimarayanan, Cat Navarro. Set dec: Colleen Rushton. Cost: Arjun Bhasin. Makeup: Susan Reilly LeHane. Hair: Nicole Bridgeford. M: Mychael Danna. M supervisor: Laura Katz. S: Allison Jackson. ED: Joseph Krings. Casting: Douglas Aibel, Henry Russell Bergstein.
    Original song (heard in toto during the finale): "Knew You For A Moment" written and performed by Abby Quinn. 
    C: Julianne Moore (Theresa Young), Michelle Williams (Isabel Anderson), Billy Crudup (Oscar Carlson), Abby Quinn (Grace Carlson).
    Loc: New York City (USA), Tamil Nadu (India).
    Festival premiere: 24 Jan 2019 Sundance.
    US premiere: 9 Aug 2019.
    Finnish premiere: 27 Dec 2019 – released by SF Studios Finland – Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Frej Grönholm / Anna Mårtensson Bjerned.
     Viewed at Tennispalatsi 10, Helsinki, 27 Dec 2019.

Cornerstone Films: "Soaring over the dilapidated, ancient city of Calcutta we find an orphanage on the outskirts of town. Isabel; beautiful, soulful, something distant in her eyes, has made it her life’s work to care for these children. In desperate need of money to keep the orphanage afloat, Isabel has seemingly found the perfect benefactor. But before the money is given, Isabel must travel to New York City to meet the woman behind the wealth."

"Theresa Young (Moore) couldn’t have a more different life from Isabel. Theresa is a multi-millionaire who founded and runs a very successful media company. Her life is what people dream of; an estate just out of the city, a loving, artistic husband, Oscar – and three children. The twin boys are adorable and devilish 7 year olds, and Grace, just 24, is the light of Theresa and Oscar’s life. She is getting married this coming weekend on Theresa and Oscar’s sprawling estate."

"These seemingly unconnected worlds are about to collide in an unexpected and deeply emotional journey that will alter each of these character’s lives forever."

"As dramatic as the events at the wedding are, it is only after the wedding, in the wake of the truth revealed, that a complex mystery unravels. The truth turns out to be stunning, deep, and more transformative than any of them could ever have expected."

"After the Wedding is about all the important things: love, family, our pasts, and all of our ultimate inescapable fates. In the spirit of films such as Terms of Endearment, this film is filled with life, laughter, and heartache.

AA: Majestic aerial shots provide the establishing views to the film's main locations in India and New York. Some may think that drone shots have become a cliché, but I believe that Griffith, Lang, Gance and Mizoguchi would have embraced the opportunity for such eagle's eye views. Never has it been easier to produce tracking shots from high angles.

After the Wedding is an independent production by the wife-husband team of Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich. Based on Susanne Bier's eponymous Danish original, it's a family drama that brings together two worlds: the abandoned children of India and the wealthy upper class of New York.

The twists and revelations would suffice for grand melodrama, but the approach is anti-melodramatic. The powerful emotions are conveyed honestly. Each main character has her / his overwhelming moments, and the actors avoid sentimentalism.

It's a women's film. Julianne Moore gives a passionate interpretation as Theresa, an iron lady who is about to make pivotal decisions. We meet her as a rude and tactless employer, a perfect hostess who pulls all the strings, and an agonized woman prematurely facing the terminal station.

Michelle Williams is her opposite as Isabel who runs an orphanage in Calcutta / Kolkata. She is devoted to her mission, a warm and sunny presence among children who have experienced hunger, homelessness and prostitution. She is also a spiritual teacher at meditation classes, at home in the nature.

Abby Quinn is the young daughter Grace, celebrating her wedding, still confused and lost, shattered by existential revelations that take place all of a sudden. For both Theresa and Grace things happen too soon. The small world and the big world meet: the elementary clashes of a family and the great contrasts of the world. The set-up may be studied but it works thanks to the conviction of the actors.

Billy Crudup as the artist Oscar Carlson is somewhat an outsider, not overwhelmingly involved but always reliable and responsible. "I love her" he says about Theresa. "Do you?" asks Grace. I believe he does, but he also needs to keep a distance to maintain his artistic freedom and integrity.

Theresa is so overbearing that also Isabel reflexively adopts a defensive and reserved stance, suspicious of her motives until she learns her big secret. Oscar and Theresa may be an unlikely match. Theresa says that she had always thought she would marry a good banker – until she realized that there aren't any. She is offended by Isabel and Oscar's reserved reactions to her proposal which sounds too good to be true: "You don't have to be poor to have a good heart".

To sum up: there is something studied in the story, and the presence of India is not as engrossing as is meant, but the emotional roller-coaster of the family drama is deeply felt and moving. The imagery of the fallen tree with the empty bird's nest is haunting.

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