After the Wedding

After the Wedding

2006, R, 120 min. Directed by Susanne Bier. Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassgård, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Stine Fischer Christensen, Christian Tafdrup, Frederik Gullits Ernst, Ida Dwinger, Mona Malm.

REVIEWED By Josh Rosenblatt, Fri., May 25, 2007

What is it with the Danish and their suffocating domestic dramas? In Breaking the Waves, Lars von Trier took a pair of perfectly attractive newlyweds and dropped them down an elevator shaft of despair so deep that when new bride Emily Watson finally commits suicide at the film’s end, it comes as a relief. While in Thomas Vinterberg’s The Celebration, a father’s seemingly uneventful birthday party erupts into a firestorm of familial accusations and condemnation. Maybe Carl Dreyer, who was putting a patent on emotionally oppressive films before films were making sound, is to blame for this lingering dread hanging over the Danish movie industry. Or maybe the malady can be traced back to Prince Hamlet. Or maybe it’s just those long, dark winters. Whatever the cause, however, the tradition continues, with writer/director Bier the latest in a long line of filmmakers who have mastered the art of making movies about people we can all thank God we’re not. For years Bier has been scooping up international awards by the barrelful for her films about adultery, paralysis, and mental impairment (Open Hearts, Brothers), and her latest, After the Wedding, is another triumph of repressed despair. At its center is Jacob (Mikkelsen), an aid worker who runs an orphanage in Mumbai and whose insides are knotted up like a sheepshank. Summoned from India to meet with a potential benefactor (Lassgård), Jacob returns to Copenhagen to discover that not only has he flown 4,000 miles to beg money from a man who is married to the woman he was in love with 20 years ago but that they have a daughter whose age suggests the issue of paternity might yet be open to debate. Emotional bombs like these fall early and often in After the Wedding, scattering the residue of infidelity, illness, and death into everyone’s quiet little lives. But even when the world is exploding around you, the story goes, there is still the possibility for redemption. Unfortunately, in Bier’s world, where even the most innocuous acts can result in emotional ruin, redemption is purgatorial in its own peculiar way.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Susanne Bier
Morality at Play
Morality at Play
Different worlds, but universal woes

Marjorie Baumgarten, March 11, 2011

More Susanne Bier Films
A Second Chance
A cop steals a junkie couple's endangered baby for his grieving wife

Kimberley Jones, Dec. 4, 2015

Love Is All You Need
Danish Oscar-winner Susanne Bier lightens her tone with this grown-up romantic comedy that stars Pierce Brosnan.

Marjorie Baumgarten, May 31, 2013

More by Josh Rosenblatt
Fighting Stress Through Fighting Sports
Fighting Stress Through Fighting Sports
A Krav Maga devotee on the curative power of punching a bag

Oct. 2, 2020

SXSW Film Review: <i>Bikes vs. Cars</i>
SXSW: Bikes vs. Cars
Swedish doc looks into the war between wheels

March 16, 2015


After the Wedding, Susanne Bier, Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassgård, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Stine Fischer Christensen, Christian Tafdrup, Frederik Gullits Ernst, Ida Dwinger, Mona Malm

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle