“After the Wedding” is a marvelous melodrama featuring fantastic performances brought to life by Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams and Billy Crudup. This remarkable role reversal remake simply shines with wonderful and amazing performances all around.
Isabel (Williams), a 39-year-old woman running an Indian orphanage, is unexpectedly asked to physically visit New York to obtain a $2 million grant, which will assist and help fund her orphanage. Despite several attempts seeking an alternative replacement, Isabel reluctantly visits New York “leaving her kids behind” and meets with a potential benefactor Theresa Young (Moore), who owns and runs a powerful media company. Although agreeing and arranging the meeting, Theresa needs more time to evaluate everything as her daughter Grace’s (Abby Quinn) impeding wedding absorbs most of her time and attention. Unexpectedly, Isabel is invited to the wedding and shortly thereafter, events ensue forcing four strangers to confront an uncomfortable decision from 20 years ago.
Julianne Moore magnificently headlines a fantastic film and is commendably complimented with Michelle Williams. Both actors approach each eccentric character carefully creating two dynamic, distinct performances projecting polar opposites of motherhood. Each of their respective and curious cultural inclinations come to the forefront when forced to reckon with a deep-seated secret, which potentially can rip everyone apart. Everything from the neat nuances of simplistic, sincere gestures and age appropriate reactions, Moore and Williams both brilliantly execute on all cylinders creating two memorable mothers.
Michelle Williams wows with such subtly it’s a tragedy she doesn’t garner more attention for her amazing, awesome acting abilities. From the moment she first appears meditating to the last sequence adjusting a child’s collar I 100% believe in Isabel and feel immediately immersed in her story. The stunning shots showing Isabel on a balcony beautifully portrays a woman longing for familiarity while Theresa’s remarkable life starts unraveling rapidly before the audience’s eyes. Williams’ wonderful and marvelous minimalistic approach allows each of us to appreciate the simple things in life motivating us, which is absolutely spellbinding.
Following up her pitch perfect performance in “Gloria,” Julianne Moore knocks it out of the park again. What simply starts out as a mere business proposition slowly starts shedding layers of a not-so perfect projection of an ideal life. Moore’s magnificent embodiment of a powerful person just proves why she remains one of the best actors of this generation. Moore’s motherhood represents the struggle so many individuals encounter and the great lengths one is willing to do for their family. Whether you agree or disagree with what transpires, both performances permeate in your mind and genuinely generate ever-evolving interpretations of who was right long after you leave the theater.
Stuck in the middle are Theresa’s artist husband Oscar Carlson (Crudup) and Theresa’s daughter Grace (Abby Quinn). The tenacious trio of Crudup, Moore and Williams alone are worth the price of admission. Billy Crudup continues captivating audiences all around with a simply stunning subdued performance that fantastically fits between both leading ladies. Crudup certainly knows how to make an immediate impact whenever appearing on screen. On the other hand I had difficulty believing Quinn’s performance as Grace. For whatever reason, Quinn’s acting just didn’t click with me, but her song “Knew You For a Moment” fantastically fits for the end credits.
Writer/Director Bart Freundlich’s phenomenal prose showcases the deliberate decisions and actions made by both leading ladies exceptionally in this beautiful remake of the 2006 Susanne Bier film of the same name. Generally in most movie remakes we get a modern update or an “English version.” So imagine my surprise with walking out feeling refreshed because two fully formed polarizing protagonists left me assessing and analyzing more than the original. Freundlich formally worked with Crudup and Moore in “Trust the Man” and that trust certainly carried over with creating a remarkable remake. Both leading ladies linger with their electric eye-acting abilities and laser focus creating content beyond a surface level, especially at the wedding and restaurant sequences. These powerful, poignant moments make “After The Wedding” a must see and a delightful drama worth discovering.
3 ½ out of 4 stars
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