Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams impress in the 2019 remake, but the rest of the film does not.
Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams deliver impressive performances in the recently released remake of "After the Wedding." But writer-director Bart Freundlich's version plays out like a sappy soap opera.
The film begins in India where an American aid worker, Isabel (Williams), has reluctantly agreed to travel back to the United States. She does so on the behest of millionaire media mogul, Theresa (Moore), who has promised a huge donation to the orphanage at which Isabel works. When the two women meet for the first time in New York City, Theresa surprisingly invites Isabel to her daughter's wedding. Isabel doesn't understand why, but agrees to attend.
During the lavish ceremony, Isabel locks eyes with Theresa's husband, Oscar (super smirker Billy Crudup). At that moment we sense that something fishy is going on between the two. And it's way too coincidental to swallow. Let's just say, it's a Jerry Springer moment. Theresa ups the ante to $20 million if Isabel will remain in the U.S. What's the catch? And how can she refuse given that thousands of orphaned children would suffer?
"After the Wedding" is mainly a character-driven film that peels apart the psyches of these two strong females. Theresa is more multifaceted than Isabel, but she, too, harbors secrets. At first we view both of them as kind, giving individuals but as the story unfolds, both reveal a darker side lurking just beneath the surface.
Freundlich's remake is much more predictable and implausible than writer-director Susanne Bier's 2006 emotionally charged film. As each new revelation unfolds in Freundlich's story, we become more weary than astounded. It's somewhat numbing. But in his defense, the cinematography is lush and picturesque, especially the scenes shot in India. Also, his casting of Moore (his wife) along with Williams was nothing short of brilliant. One couldn't wish for a better pairing.
"After the Wedding" addresses a number of social issues, but not too overtly. The contrast between haves and have-nots is pretty much a given but it's more of a subtle subtext. Bottom line, performances reign supreme in this movie that should have been better executed.