After the Wedding


Opening Friday, Aug. 30

There’s a moment in After the Wedding, a gender-flipped remake of the 2006 Danish drama, when Julianne Moore unleashes all of her firepower as a screen performer, and I swear my heart actually stopped for a beat. I can’t be certain without an EKG, but I’m convinced she managed to biologically interrupt my circulatory system. I’m totally serious. When Moore is on point, she’s a public-safety hazard.

It’s one of several powerful performances in the film, which follows the intertwined fates of three people: Moore as a high-wattage media mogul, Billy Crudup as her artist husband, and Michelle Williams as an American expat running an orphanage in India. The orphanage needs money,  and the mogul has it to give, but the husband’s past is generating some serious present-tense drama. The story’s hard twists and turns require industrial-strength suspension of disbelief, but the performers drill down to the tricky emotions beneath the artifice.

This is one of those films where the actors simply outshine the script. Writer-director Bart Freundlich (The Myth of Fingerprints) makes a bold choice by gender-swapping the three principal roles from the original film. But the structural changes introduce complications regarding plausibility that put too much force to the story’s central twist. 

The upside is that we get to see Moore and Williams at work, doing what they do best. Each takes a different approach to the high-wire character work required. Moore’s frenetic energy caroms off of Williams’s deep stillness, yet they both find a way into the pulse of each beat, each scene, each revelation. Crudup and Abby Quinn expertly fill the spaces in between. After the Wedding is more successful as a showcase than a story, but what a show. Bring your meds, just in case.

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