It is virtually impossible to review the beautiful new film “After the Wedding” because to reveal any of the plot would inevitably unravel all the rest of it.
It’s a convoluted story, filled with twists and turns, secrets and surprises, impeccably presented by three extraordinary actors: Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, and Billy Crudup.
Moore plays Theresa Young, extravagantly wealthy CEO of a successful media company headquartered in New York. She lives in fashionable Oyster Bay with her artist husband Oscar (Billy Crudup), her 21-year-old daughter Grace (Abby Quinn), and eight-year-old twins, Theo and Otto (Tre Ryder and Azhy Robertson). It is Grace’s wedding to Jonathan (Alex Esola), a young executive in her mother’s company, that anchors the plot.
Michelle Williams, on the other hand, plays Isabel, an American woman who lives in India as director of an orphanage in Calcutta. Always strapped for funding, Isabel is surprised to learn that Theresa, a potential donor, is aware of the orphanage and is interested in donating a large sum to keep it going. The only condition is that Isabel come to New York and make a presentation in person. Isabel, who has avoided returning to New York for several decades, is reluctant to go, but is persuaded by her colleagues to follow up on Theresa’s offer.
The two women could not appear to be more different in character or temperament. Theresa, who sometimes rules her company with an overly strong hand and a merciless tongue, seems to be a sharp contrast to the quiet, self-contained Isabel. Both, however, share a deep compassionate spirit and a boundless enthusiasm for the work they do. Theresa, in fact, soon shows herself to be a woman filled with genuine warmth and charm and a rich sense of humor.
In the background is the hubbub of the preparations for the upcoming wedding. Theresa, who glowingly thrives on it, has invited Isabel to attend, but Isabel is reluctant. Vehemently so.
And here is where I have to end the review, because the last half of the film goes off in a series of different directions—all of them unsuspected and surprising.
“After the Wedding” was written and directed by Bart Freundlich, who happens to be Julianne Moore’s real-life husband. It is based on the Danish film “Efter Brylluppet”, which was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar a few years ago. In the current version, however, even without Freundlich’s supremely skillful direction, Moore’s riveting performance would make her a strong contender for this year’s Best Actress Academy Award. Especially for her final scene in the film, in which she delivers an acting tour de force that will remain with you long after the film is over.
The film opened in Los Angeles and New York on August 9 in a limited release but will soon be available at your local movie house.
Cynthia Citron has lived and worked on every continent except Antarctica as a journalist, award-winning magazine editor, public relations director, and screenwriter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org