After the Wedding
Dir. Susanne Bier. 2006. R. 120mins. In English and subtitled Danish, Swedish and Hindi. Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassgård, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Stine Fischer Christensen, Christian Tafdrup, Frederik Gullits Ernst.
When brooding asceticism is required, the go-to Scandinavian actor of our time is Mikkelsen, the melancholy Dane who makes Max von Sydow look like Fatty Arbuckle. Melodrama specialist Bier (Brothers, Open Hearts) gets full value from the taut planes of Mikkelsen’s conflicted face by casting him as Jacob, a quietly furious foreign-aid worker struggling to keep a cash-strapped orphanage in Mumbai, India, from going under.
From out of the blue comes a princely offer of support from a Danish captain of industry named Jørgen (Lassgård). The funds, however, come with strings attached: Jacob must fly to Denmark and meet and schmooze with his potential benefactor. Jacob grudgingly complies, only to find that Jørgen, a crass manipulator with a bullying basso profundo, refuses to get down to business until after the impending wedding of his daughter (Christensen), which he insists Jacob must attend.
At the wedding itself, Jacob is stunned to recognize the bride’s mother (Knudsen) as his former lover, Helene, then doubly surprised (once he absorbs the implications) to discover that Jørgen is father to the bride by adoption only.
Assured and compelling during the setup phase, After loses some momentum once it turns toward solving the mystery of who’s setting up whom and why. The denouement is surprising mostly for its sentimentality, but if you’re in the mood for some well-acted soap cast in the Dogme 95 mold, this should do the trick for you. (Opens Fri; Click here for showtimes.)— Cliff Doerksen