Susanne Bier’s impressive drama After the Wedding is a terrific
piece of Danish soap. The wild plot doesn’t bear too much scrutiny, but the
performances are full of gripping silences.
Mads Mikkelsen is a worker in a cash-strapped orphanage in Bombay. To placate
his Danish sponsors he has to fly to Copenhagen and convince Rolf Lassgård’s
millionare that his donations to the orphanage are essential and that the
money is well spent.
It rapidly transpires that Rolf has more selfish reasons to drag the charity
worker halfway around the world. The tycoon’s health is failing. He wants to
put his empire in order. His stepdaughter is getting married, and the
unwitting Mikkelsen may or may not be her natural father.
The emotional confusion is as tense and jittery as the camerawork. A seemingly
impulsive invitation to the wedding of Lassgård’s daughter is an elaborate
gamble. It brings Mikkelsen face-to-face with a woman who broke his heart,
and a past he has spent a lifetime trying to escape. The sudden jump cuts
bring a disconcerting sense of urgency to every argument. The choppy
close-ups of eyes and faces milk uncertainty and fear.
The giddy revelations come thick and fast. But the psychology feels authentic
because the acting looks improvised, raw and fresh. Lassgård’s performance
becomes more affecting and unpredictable the closer he gets to his dread
end. You can almost taste the frustration and anger when he and Mikkelsen
lock horns. This is well worth its Oscar nomination for Best Foreign