An Oscar-Nominated Melodrama With Big Emotions
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, After the Wedding (2006) was directed by Susanne Bier (Open Hearts, Brothers) and stars Mads Mikkelsen, who played the villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. After the Wedding is an absorbing Danish-language melodrama that packs an emotional wallop.
The story pivots on a meeting that occurs between two very different men. One is a melancholy, antisocial Danish man (Mikkelsen) with no family ties who for years has dedicated himself to helping the poor in India. The other is a wealthy business tycoon (Swedish actor Rolf Lassgard) who lives on a large country estate outside Copenhagen and dotes on his wife and three children. Both Mikkelsen and Lassgard are outstanding in their roles, but in the end it's Lassgard's portrayal of a pater familias that is unforgettable.
Director Susanne Bier's storytelling style is quite contemporary. The camerawork, editing and soundtrack music are often edgy, and there are some unsettling extreme close-ups of faces. Bier is very effective at controlling mood, and she sustains a strong narrative drive.
A Yarn About Blood, Money and Duty
After the Wedding opens with location shooting in India and English-language dialogue. In Mumbai, the intense Jacob (Mikkelsen) is a key figure in operating an orphanage, and he has formed a father-son-like bond with one of the orphan boys who is about eight years old. But the orphanage is in such deep financial trouble that it's on the verge of having to close.
Out of the blue Jacob gets word that a wealthy benefactor is favorably disposed toward making a large donation, but a face-to-face meeting in Copenhagen will be required. Jacob has not been in his native Denmark for years and would prefer not to travel, but rather than risk having the orphans turned out into the streets, he reluctantly undertakes the journey.
With Jacob's arrival in Copenhagen, the dialogue switches to Danish. He meets with the potential donor, a tycoon named Jorgen (Lassgard), who refuses to get into any details concerning the orphanage. Instead, he insists that Jacob must attend his daughter's wedding the next day.
It's at the lavish reception following the wedding that the story shifts into high gear. When Jacob meets the tycoon's wife, he is dumbfounded that she is someone from his past. From there, a contrived, but compelling and thought-provoking, tale unfolds.
Interview With the Director
The DVD provides a 23-minute Danish-language interview of director Susanne Bier by movie critic Morten Piil that was conducted in 2006. At the time Bier was around 46 years old and had made about 10 films. The first half of the interview is specific to After the Wedding, with the remainder delving into her feelings about filmmaking in general.
Bier makes some interesting remarks about After the Wedding's two most noteworthy characters, the tycoon Jorgen and the idealistic aid worker Jacob. She articulates a couple of the big questions raised by her film. For example, does anyone have the right to want to control other people's lives? And when is it acceptable to be secretive about issues that have major impact on others?
Also on the DVD are eight deleted scenes with a total running time of 17 minutes. The most interesting of these shows Jorgen taking his young twin sons fishing on a beautiful lake in Sweden. There's also a humorous scene where three elderly aunts complain about finding buckshot in the pheasant served at the wedding reception.
There's an eight-minute featurette on the DVD where movie critic Morten Piil discusses the deleted scenes with director Susanne Bier. She says that all the deleted scenes worked as she had intended, but all were edited out of the final cut because they distracted too much from the main story she wanted to tell. She says that at the film academy she and the other students were taught to "kill your darlings."
Listed below are the details for the DVD containing After the Wedding.
DVD Release Date: July 10, 2007
Feature Film Run Time: 1 hr. 59 min.
Widescreen (1.85:1), Color
MPAA Rating: R for Some Language and a Scene of Sexuality
Danish 5.1 Dolby Digital
English Captions for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Interview With Director Susanne Bier (23 min.)
Intro to Deleted Scenes (8 min.)
Deleted Scenes (8 scenes with total run time = 17 min.)