Thursday, 4 September 2008

"After The Wedding". A Review Of The Danish Film Masterpiece Now On DVD.

I'm being spoiled. First I see the beautiful, mature and delightful Mira Nair film "The Namesake" and now this peach! What's going on!!

"After The Wedding" has a central performance from Mads Mikkelsen (the facially scared card-playing La Chiffre in the superb "Casino Royale") that is both riveting and Oscar worthy. He's the kind of actor who can just stand there and whole worlds are expressed in his strangely compelling face - an instrument I'm sure the director knew would have us hooked right from the get go. When Mads smiles, you smile, when he hurts - you hurt. When he's on screen, he's riveting, like say Gary Oldman is. And I can imagine, many women wouldn't mind looking at him either - long after the two hours of this is up!

It's foreign language (dubbed) and opens with Mads (Jakob) in an Indian orphanage where he is distributing food from a truck, giving lessons in English in a shed of a building and generally holding it all together. But as always - lack of funds threathen imminent closure and the destitute children will be evicted out onto the harsh streets. He gets a phonecall from Denmark from Jorgen (Rolf Lassgard playing a millionaire businessman) with an offer of untold millions that will keep his orphanage open and indeed even help others. He seems reluctant to go and get this gift horse, but he has to. Jakob promises the adoring children that he'll be back within a week and he won't let them down. But things change when he gets there.

Forced to socialise with the man who holds the all-important purse strings, he attends the well-heeled society wedding of Anna (Jorgen's daughter) and to his astonishment, Jakob recognises Jorgen's wife - and she him - there's been history between them. Without giving too much plot away - Jakob makes a staggering and life-changing discovery and also, slowly but surely, begins to understand Jorgen's interest in wanting him back in Denmark.

This is about family, loved ones, the preciousness of our kids, betrayal, bad mistakes made in the past, another chance given to redeem them now - all the best stuff - and although some of the performances are at times slightly 'over-the-top' - the movie has heart - and you root for these people all the way to the end.

The cast is uniformly excellent - especially Mikkelson and Lassgard - who's rivalry and shared loves are beautifully and realistically handled. There were many scenes where tears willingly plopped out of my weary goggleboxes. And there's superb complimentary music too.

I loved this film - I really did. And I hope it will get the vast audience it deserves. Put it high on your rental lists.

PS: see also seperate review for "The Namesake" - in my top twenty with a bullet

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