A great remake of a movie can both elevate the original work and create an entertaining experience that stands on its own. Occasionally, such as in the case of 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven,” a remake can become exponentially more popular than its source material, and can fuel more interest in the original film.
A bad remake, however, can have the opposite effect. It can taint the brand and make going back to watch the original more of a chore than anything.
“After the Wedding” is a remake of a Danish film of the same name from 2006. The original film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, and put Mads Mikkleson (“Hannibal,” “Doctor Strange”) on the map.
This remake, starring Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup, lies somewhere in between a bad and a great remake. While the film features great performances from its cast, as a whole, it doesn’t really offer much to be remembered.
“After the Wedding” features many different plot twists and reveals that increase the complexity of its story. A good twist can make a movie more exciting and interesting, but the unfortunate downside is that it’s hard to talk about this movie without spoiling anything. The only real premise that can be offered up sans-spoilers is that it focuses around a woman named Isabel (Williams) who manages an orphanage in India. When Isabel travels to New York to speak to a donor about more funding for the orphanage, she is forced to confront an emotional aspect of her life she left behind decades ago.
The performances given by the main cast in "After the Wedding" are the strongest part of the film.
Moore, who plays the rich donor Theresa, proves yet again that she is an absolute powerhouse of an actress. Every time she is on screen she makes an impact. Her character is a strong, confident and smart woman who has her own internal struggles and conflicts about her life and her legacy. She is a complex character who always finds a way to surprise the people around her. Moore manages to convey all of these intricacies and makes it look easy. Whether it be through a slight change of facial expressions in key moments or through the different tones of voice she uses around different characters, Moore always finds a way to make her character the most dynamic in the film.
This kind of complexity can also be found in Crudup's performance as Oscar, Theresa's husband. Throughout the film, Oscar is forced to confront a number of difficult and emotionally strenuous situations. He has to constantly wrestle with his own mistakes and decisions. Crudup accentuates the emotions of the character by disappearing into his role, and providing the audience with an incredibly raw performance.
Though she stars as the lead role of Isabel, Williams does get a bit overshadowed by these other two performances. She's an incredible actress, and it's not that she gives a poor performance in the film, she just fails to leave as strong of an impression.
In fact, the film as a whole doesn't really provide much else to talk about aside from Moore and Crudup.
The story, while constantly taking new turns, gets increasingly bland and predictable as it continues. It simply chugs along without providing the audience with a genuine reason to care about what's happening. It's apparent that Isabel is facing hard decisions and struggling with her life, but since the audience isn't attached to her, the thought of her easily passes out of the audience's mind. If the viewers don't care about the main character, it can be hard to make them care about the movie at all, which is the exact issue with "After the Wedding."
There is a good story here, but it isn't executed very well. I would assume it's better handled in the original version, since it did get some Oscar recognition, but I haven't actually seen it.
Regardless, this rendition is never bad per se, but it does fail in providing a memorable experience at the theater. Aside from Moore and Crudup's performances, there's really nothing worth writing home about here.
It's a decent film, but your time might be better spent seeking out the original.
"After the Wedding" opens at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center on Friday, Aug. 30. The film's editor and UNL alum, Joseph Krings, will be attending a Q+A at the Ross following the 7:30 p.m. screening on Friday, Sept 6.