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05 Sep 2019

Tears, Great Acting and a Soap-Opera Plot: 'After the Wedding' Is Implausible but Emotionally Compelling

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Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore in After the Wedding. Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore in After the Wedding.

I cried like a damn baby while watching After the Wedding. So, there you go.

After the Wedding has the distinction of having the lion’s share of its dialogue delivered by Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup; that’s a solid pedigree. This remake of a 2006 Swedish/Danish film has a soap-opera plot for sure—but you won’t care when it gets a little melodramatic.

Williams does so much with facial expressions in this movie—it’s otherworldly. As Isabel, a woman visiting New York in an effort to raise funds for her charity, she shows the power of simple expressions. She also reminds us that she’s a master at blowing the roof off the house if the script calls for it.

As Theresa—the businesswoman who might find herself cutting a big check for Isabel and her overseas orphanage—Moore doesn’t just match Williams’ power; she blows the shit out of the acting meter, if such a thing exists. (It doesn’t.) Moore is stunning in the role, whether her character is quietly closing a deal or getting super-drunk at lunch. Moore is also good when the script calls for volume.

This is one of those movies where I really can’t tell you much about it. Yes, it has a wedding in it, as the title implies. Grace (Abby Quinn), daughter of Theresa and Oscar (Crudup), a famous artist, is getting married to lame-guy Frank (Will Chase). Circumstances call for Isabel to attend the wedding, and … well, lots of things happen after the wedding, as the title implies.

The movie gets progressively nutty, going off the tracks and into the land of “this only happens in the movies” … yet I couldn’t help but be deeply moved by what transpires, silly as it was. Again, credit Williams, Moore and Crudup for that.

The film bends logic, has plot holes and includes a mystery that seems rather implausible. And, yet … I wept watching this thing. I’m not saying you will weep. You might watch this movie, and say aloud, “Grimm, you are a stupid wuss!” Well, I accept your wuss remark, and I stand proudly by the fact that this movie made me cry like a kid who had his Etch A Sketch taken away. I realize that the toy reference is a bit dated. I was a child of the ’70s. Piss off.

Sorry … after a good cry, I can be a little cranky. I watched this on a home screener, and I am literally writing this while the tears are still drying on my stupid, fat face. My dog is looking at me all like, “Come on, dude. You have to have bigger balls than that. You are a wuss. Give me food.”

Come Oscar time, I’m not too sure After the Wedding will get any attention. While the performances are as good as anything on screens so far this year, the script is straight out of Days of Our Lives. And, yet, cry, I did. Have I told you that this movie made me cry?

OK, I’m almost to the end of my review, and I think I’ve done a damn fine job of not revealing too much about the plot. This is the part where I will talk about the fine camerawork to pad the word count: The camerawork is really good in this movie. Actually, I’m not just saying that to eat up words, even though that is actually what I’m doing. The camerawork really is top notch.

All right, so this is the final paragraph, and I do realize that most of this wasn’t really a review. Go see After the Wedding if you want to cry, or you simply want some extra fuel to make fun of me with in the event that it doesn’t make you cry. Go ahead. Call me names. I’ve had a good cry, and I’m feeling mighty vulnerable.

After the Wedding is now playing at the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033).

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