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After the Wedding

August 23, 2010

After the Wedding (2006)
Director: Susanne Bier
Actors: Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassgard, Sidse Babett Knudsen

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Synopsis: A Danish aid worker (Mads Mikkelsen) is summoned home to Copenhagen, where he uncovers a huge family secret.

Review: Susanne Bier has fashioned another of her glossy Danish melodramas with a plot that wouldn’t be amiss as a primetime US soap opera. The film’s central premise – estranged Danish aid worker in India, drawn back to family problems in Denmark – should have represented more than enough meat for Bier to get her teeth stuck into. Much like with her tawdry Brødre however, she exploits the material for one sensational development after another (an illegitimate daughter, spousal cheating, a secret terminal illness) without, oddly enough, any actual dramatic tension or curiosity arising from these events. Even the subplot about Mads Mikkelsen’s character being torn between his third-world charitable causes and his European bourgeois concerns is not progressed coherently, although some faux exotic camerawork when Bier settles her gaze on captured animals is the clumsiest of metaphors for Mikkelsen’s ‘tamed’ protagonist. The only saving grace is that After the Wedding is an impeccably acted drama with credible and sympathetic performances doing their best to offset the hyperbole of the story. (March 2010)

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