Film

A Human Mess

After the Wedding Brings the Drama

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Without offering too many spoilers, a succinct description of what to expect from After the Wedding is that it's a Scandinavian melodrama—but beyond that, you should simply expect the unexpected.

Wedding's long and ever-evolving story begins in India, where a handsome Danish man, Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen), has been running an orphanage on the brink of closure. An unexpected glimmer of hope arrives when a multi-millionaire from Denmark, Jørgen (Rolf Lassgård), materializes to consider a hefty donation to the orphanage, requesting that Jacob travel to Denmark to discuss the negotiations in person. As he grudgingly goes through the motions, Jacob winds up at the wedding of Jørgen's daughter, Anna. When Anna makes a toast and reveals a family secret, the ambling plot shifts so suddenly that it forces you empathize with the characters' surprise.

Things get more complicated from there, making it difficult to discern what sort of movie After the Wedding is until more than halfway through. What begins as a clash between idealism and imperialism starts to look like a love triangle, then a whodunit, then a whodunit with no bad guys, and finally, a torrent of humanity and, truth be told, a bit more melodrama than this critic can handle without an eye roll.

This building crescendo of plot and superbly acted character development makes After the Wedding a grand beast of a film—so long as you are prepared to invest yourself and stick through the slower parts, tolerating all the human drama. It's a film in which nary a character escapes the plot's manhandling, each individual illuminated from the best and worst angles. Thought provoking, if a tad exhausting, Wedding will remind you that no person, and no person's life, is as predictable as one might arrogantly assume.

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