Monday, March 12, 2007

AFTER THE WEDDING/EFTER BRYLLUPPET - Nik's best film of 2006 AND 2007!

This review is posted by guest reviewer, Daniel Plainview.

It's important, in any movie review, to cut to the chase quickly, for those who do not plan to read past the first paragraph. So, to put it succinctly, this is the best film I've seen this year. Since it's not been up against great competition, I should add that had I seen it in 2006, it would still have been the best film I had seen that year too. Susanne Bier (BROTHERS) has outdone herself here in directing an understated yet moving, contentful, and absolutely captivating drama, that takes the viewer on a voyage with the characters that they won't soon forget.

Even had the plot not been as thick as it was with suspense and raw human emotion, this film would have been worth seeing for the acting performances alone. Mads Mikkelsen (CASINO ROYALE, PUSHER) outdoes himself as the central character Jacob; quietly spoken; intense; a man of few words. Sidse Babett Knudsen (Helene) and Stine Fischer Christensen (Anna) make for excellent co-stars, skillfully weaving the complex relationships that the movie portrays and making them more real, more tangible. But even given these superlative performances, Rolf Lassgård as Jorgen (father of Anna and husband to Helene) simply steals the show. I defy anyone not to be moved by the awesome power and sheer humanity of his acting - in fact I think his performance alone makes the film worth seeing again.

And indeed, that is perhaps the greatest triumph of the film, that it's worth seeing again. The plot unravels in such an intense and clever way that despite the relative simplicity of the central concept, and the fact that there are no clever Memento or Pulp Fiction-like plays with chronology, you are nevertheless constantly re-evaluating earlier scenes, the emotions of the players, the development of the characters, why they reacted the way they did, how they must have been feeling given what was going on inside them. Of course there is no "inside them", they're only actors, but such is the stark realism of this film encapsulated not only by the acting but by the sensitive camerawork and subtle score, that the scenes, the emotions, the stories become completely real to the audience.

I suppose I ought to be balanced in this review, and to say that this won't be everyone's cup of tea, for a very good reason. After the Wedding is an intense experience - one that is emotionally draining in a way other films are not. You come out of the cinema feeling as if you've gone through not quite an ordeal, but a journey with the characters. So much has happened, there's so much to the film; so many emotional highs and lows; so many twists and turns and surprises; so much drama, and pain. This is not by any means light viewing, and I wouldn't recommend it as a popcorn muncher.

But it does set the bar as far as future releases for this year are concerned. It is a sad comment on modern cinema that, for the first 40 minutes or so, I sat in the cinema expecting the plot to unravel in a 2-dimensional way, with goodies and baddies, a linear plot, a hero, a anti-hero, and a simple happy hollywood ending. Even though I say it again, realism is the catchword in this film - it avoids the melodrama of hollywood, the paint-by-numbers morality of Jungian archetypal characters, and the triteness of a clean, happy and sown-up ending. After the Wedding exceeded all my expectations, repeatedly confounded my cynicism, and finally conquered my heart. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love and out of it, and I am left with only one option: to heartily recommend this same experience to you.

AFTER THE WEDDING - ETER BRYLLUPPET opened in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Italy in 2006 and in Greece and Germany earlier this year. It is currently on release in Belgium, France, and the UK. It opens in Poland next week and in the US on March 30th.

P.S. BINA007 wholeheartedly concurs with this review.

1 comment:

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