Film review: After the Wedding (2006)

An acclaimed Danish film I love directed by Susanne Bier. Poses some interesting questions about self-sacrifice, liberty, and duty. For instance do you have the right to keep important things a secret from your own family?

If you are not familiar with Scandinavian cinema, this to me is one of the very best of the 2000s. Nominated for an Oscar for best foreign language film (it should have won!)

It’s genius going from poverty in the opening scene to a wealthy family environment in the next; it really illustrates the huge difference between the Western world and the poor countries.

Some may have issues with the coincidences in the film, it does border on being too crazy to be true sometimes, but I found the story plausible.

It’s a story of secrets, and twists and turns, about doing what’s best for yourself, and what’s best for others. And what money can turn you into. Money, family and emotions are a dangerous cocktail.

The use of animals is interesting, are they a symbol of fear? Luxury? Unspoiled creatures? Probably depends on each scene they appear in.

My favourite quote is uttered by Helene: “You don’t have to be poor to have good intentions. Rich people can also have high ideals”

You don’t see films this powerful and with characters so well-crafted very often. The acting is superb, especially Jorgen played by Swedish actor Rolf Lassgard, who for me stole the show.

Easily holds up to several viewings. In an interview on the DVD, director Bier talks about how Jorgen is a man who does what his feelings tell him to. Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen) isn’t like that. Jacob does around 60% of what he feels like doing. And the remaining 40% is still his responsibility. Isn’t a person responsible for living his own life? The director asks. And how do we, using these ethical values, embrace the world? We ought to begin by appreciating how privileged we are.

Jorgen claims he didn’t know Jacob was his wife’s former boyfriend, and this is interesting to look out for on the second viewing. Maybe Jorgen and his wife are not so close, and does the wife know about Jorgen’s plans? Has Jorgen been playing a psychological game the whole time since Jacob arrived? and is the title of the film after the wedding a clue?

Jorgen’s wife Helene is just one of a fascinating group of characters, has she married for the money? Another layer in the story is how Helene and her daughter Anna’s lives appear to mirror each other.

Do yourself a favor, skip Susanne Bier’s Things we lost in the fire (2007), it’s basically an inferior American remake, and for me didn’t have the same emotional impact.

If you like thoughtful dramas with layered characters, you won’t be disappointed by After The Wedding.



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