Last night I went to the Cedar-Lee theatre and saw After The Wedding.
Intense. Beautiful. Moving. My three word to describe the experience of this film. I loved this picture. Go See it...Right Now (or as soon as possible).
I have been quite lonely, for some time. Outside of my wife, step-son, and one (relatively) close friend, I have very, very little meaningful human contact. It's my fault. I have allowed this to happen.
So, I would have loved to have seen After The Wedding with a good, close friend. Someone with whom I could have a thoughtful discussion of it's what we thought and how we felt about it over coffee or a nice glass of wine. But, I was not able to do that.
So, I went alone last night to the Cedar-Lee theatre. I am glad that I did. I hate allowing the expression of my emotions in any public setting, especially in front of anyone I know. I could not help being deeply moved by this incredibly beautiful and extremely well-acted film. I have very rarely seen any (mainly) foreign-language, subtitled film where the acting and direction were so incredible that one barely notices that the dialogue is in another language. After The Wedding is that film.
The initial basic plot-line seems reasonable enough: Some, really good-looking Danish guy named Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen) runs an orphanage in a very, very poor, looking area of India. Turns out, Jacob is a very well-meaning, naive kind of guy, who does a great job taking care of the kids, but it is really bad about the whole business/financing end of the orphanage. It also turns out that Jacob has got some serious demons he's been running from, and hiding away from, down in the impoverished orphanages of India.
Well, Jacob needs to secure some more financing for his orphanage or ir closes and the kids are going to be turned out onto the street. And, he gets an offer from a (new, mysterious?) philanthropist back home in Denmark. That catch is that Jacob has to return home to Denmark to meet with the new philanthropist-guy. It is after he meets Jorgen (Rofl Lassgard), the philanthropist, that some really weird stuff starts to happen. And, that weird, seemingly coincidental stuff, means that Jacob cannot simply return to his beloved orphanage work and children in India, in a weeks time, as he had planned.
What's So Amazing about this movie? It seemed as if almost every single, blessed shot was brilliant. Some of the close-ups on Jacob, Helena, and Jorgen, and even Anna, were really painful to watch because there was so much raw emotion in their faces, displayed so nakedly. I felt almost guilty at times watching this film, as if we, the viewers, were seeing something too private in the lives of these characters.
It was all just so damned "real." From the jagged way, scattered way the camera picked up the horrible poverty and misery in India, to the way the camera caught the visible emotions on the faces of Jacob, Helana, Jorgen and Anna. This stuff is great. And not since, Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby have I seen a film I so passionately thought was brilliant, a film that is exactly what this form of storytelling should be.
So much of what we see in a movie theatre these days is (mediocre) escapist entertainment, intended to take one away from the reality of our lives. This film reveled in the pain, discomfort, guilt, denials and hurts of the past, bringing them up-to-date. It didn't pull any punches and it refused to go for the easy melodramatic out. I felt an intense cathartic release as I drove home last night. It was strangely wonderful.
Some believe that art, literature, film, theatre, food & wine, etc., these beautiful creations, help breathe life into our banal and pain-riddled, sometimes-horrifying existence on Earth. They hold that we can find some sense of peace and redemption, and take refuge in, these works of art. *I* believe this. After The Wedding is just the sort of motion picture that confirms and reinforces this belief. I thank the gods for film (and art and literature and theatre and music) like this.
Oh, and it didn't hurt that Sidse Babett Knudsen (Helena) is incredibly beautiful. I mean she is incredibly striking, and clearly a very gifted actress.