The much-admired Danish director Susanne Bier known for her handful of fine flicks ties After the Wedding in an unusual straight, fierce and compelling drama and her connections to the feeling and passion characterizes into a fascinating story. Quiet untangled of the moral challenges about ideals and money, sanctimony and obligation, serve it up to deal with human sensitivity.
The Danish title ‘Efter brylluppet’ (After the Wedding) obviously has been her most successful film. Though she’s been directing since 1990, her previous films “Open Hearts” and 2004’s wrenching drama of war’s aftermath, “Brothers,” has been enormously appreciated. This film entirely shot in digital video with flappable and imperative freehand, getting nominated for two European Film Awards including best director, and making the cut in a highly competitive year as one of the five Oscar nominees for best foreign-language film of 2006 (lost out to ‘The Lives of Others’)
The movie opens in India, the bustling streets of Mumbai, every inch occupied by grueling traffic, the noise and swirls of color. All these seem so abstract, so less immediate than the all-too-tangible challenges presented in the daily life fills every inch of the frame. Mads Mikkelsen stars as Jacob Petersen, a manager at a Mumbai orphanage. The thin staffed orphanage is in the verge of collapse after eight years and faces bankruptcy. Jacob’s hard work to keep the orphanage afloat and his personal investments in the young children, in particular, a young boy named Pramod (Neeral Mulchandani), whom Jacob has cared ever since his birth.
A Danish corporation comes forward to offer a significant donation to conserve the orphanage, with the caveat that Jacob return to Denmark. He decides to visit his country reluctantly (where he grew up) to solicit much-needed funding from the wealthy potential donor and the CEO, Jorgen Hannson (Rolf Lassgard), who desires to meet Jacob. The young boy Pramod learns about Jacobs travel to Denmark and is upset. Jacob gives him a word to be back in Mumbai for his birthday celebration, eight days away.
Jacob returns to Denmark. We see the visuals pans around in seclusion and pastels where the people are more spatially separated, the chaos of the street are replaced by the din of selfish human desire. In his travel to Copenhagen, greeted by a driver and a young man named Christian, is checked into a luxurious suite at a five-star hotel, paid for by the corporation, a contrast from his living environments of Mumbai.
Jacob in for more surprise as he is invited by Jorgen for his daughter Anna’s wedding with young man Christian the next day. During the ceremony, Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen), Jorgen’s wife, notices Jacob, and steals stealthy glances and are introduced formally during the reception, though both of them by the time are amazed and confirmed of each other’s identity, and their past ensues as Jacob’s love separated long ago. Anna’s post-ceremony toast reveals another disclosure of Jacob being her biological father and not Jorgen. Having seen that Jorgen’s wife is his own ex-girlfriend, who had abandoned him in India 20 years before, Jacob realizes that Anna is the child he never knew he had.
Jacob’s anger apparent in the wedding over Helene’s kept secret about his daughter for two decades, she conversely claims as her effort to track him down in India was in vain. She is compelled to tell Anna of Jacob now and in bit uneasy circumstances, the real father and daughter get along rather well. Jorgen stalls the negotiations relating to funding, which distresses Jacob because of his promise to return for Pramod’s birthday and in turn his displeasure seen evident for not making on time.
Soon Jorgen discloses to create a foundation in Jacob’s and Anna’s name and fund it with a large sum of money on the condition of the contract would be that Jacob must live in Denmark. Jacob initially finds himself unable to comply, because of his orphanage and the future of the children who have been part of his life for so long. Jacob storms out in frustration and Jorgen reveals his real motivation, as he is terminally ill and soon die and so his reason had brought Jacob to Denmark, and could care for Anna and Helene, as well as Morten and Martin, Jorgen’s twin sons. Angered at this deception, Jacob hastily leaves for his hotel room. Later, Anna turns up there crying because she has just discovered Christian with another woman. Jacob comforts her, realizing his need for her in his life. He signs the contract with Jorgen with the conditions intact.
Jorgen dies. On Jacob’s next visit to India, construction work at the orphanage is underway. Jacob speaks to Pramod to move to Denmark along with him and in distinction Pramod decides to stay at Mumbai. In all conscience this is one of the sympathetic films. Questions of responsibility haunt this film, questions of both the need and the cost of abandoning and connecting the other human beings. Shoulder to trust and support to lend are the difficult questions!! Revealing the need of family values, the allegory of human lives and the contrast of the nature we are tuned in. As true to the strength of our existence, the conduit for undeniable emotions, the film underlines the test of times and thread of exploring universal impasses in ….A rubrics in every inch of emotions from the crafty Susanne Bier
- Written & Directed by Susanne Bier
- Produced by Sisse Graum Olsen
- Co-Written: Anders Thomas Jensen
- Cast: Mads Mikkelsen; Sidse Babett Knudsen; Rolf Lassgard; Meenal Patel & Neeral Mulchandani
- Music by Johan Söderqvist
- Cinematography: Morten Søborg
- Edited by Pernille Bech Christensen & Morten Højbjerg
- Distributed by Nordisk Film (DK); Soda Pictures (UK) & IFC Films (US)
- Release dates: 24 February 2006
- Run time of 120 minutes
- Country: Denmark & Sweden
- Language: Danish; Swedish; Hindi & English