Review | After the Wedding | 2019
|Left to Right: Michelle Williams as Isabel, Julianne Moore as Theresa Young.|
Photo by Julio Macat. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.
For a film with such a high pedigree, After the Wedding is a shockingly listless affair. Based on an Oscar nominated Danish film from acclaimed filmmaker Susanne Bier and starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams, this 2019 Sundance Film Festival opening selection has fallen flat upon release, failing to make the critical splash I'm sure its filmmakers were hoping for.
After the Wedding weaves a tangled web, but it never rises about the level of a glossy soap opera. It's handsome to look at, and Williams and Moore are in typically fine form, but this thing is a slog, a ponderous, self-important "prestige" drama whose overwrought histrionics never approach anything resembling actual human emotion. Director Bart Freundlich, whose previous credits include The Rebound and Catch that Kid, seems determined to transition to higher class dramas by milking every ounce of feeling out of the material that he can, and the result is often exhausting, a hopeless mishmash of art house clichés and prestige picture banality.
It's a shame because the pedigree is certainly there, but the film seems designed from the ground up to be an awards contender, hopelessly wringing the life out of every story beat and emotional moment. Freundlich's penchant for cutting to sweeping drone shots belies the film's intimate nature, ultimately creating a film of strong ambitions but a weak emotional center. It never manages to stand out from the hundreds of films like it that have clogged film festivals and art houses this time of year for decades, and it is likely that it will be forgotten nearly as quickly as its predecessors, lost in the late summer "adult drama" doldrums that have become a sort of Bermuda Triangle for films of this earnest but tedious ilk.