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After the Wedding
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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that After the Wedding is a drama about a woman (Michelle Williams) whose life changes in unexpected ways after connecting with a benefactor (Julianne Moore) who offers to fund her orphanage. A looming death plays a large part in the drama, but viewers don't see any death depicted on-screen; instead, the focus is on love and grief within a family. The film begins in India, where viewers see poor people living on the street and hear mentions of children dying of malnutrition and being forced into sex work. Language is infrequent, but expect "f--king," "goddamn," "bullshit," and "a--hole"; there are also some loud, tense arguments. Sexual content is limited to one scene in which a character climbs into his wife's bath to start kissing her; neither are visibly nude, and the camera cuts away quickly. Characters drink at parties, and two of them chug drinks as a crowd cheers, but no one acts drunk. Characters do everything they can to protect their families, even to the point of making choices that not everyone agrees with. Both are courageous and strong, demonstrating compassion and communication in their attempts to keep their family safe. The film is a gender-flipped remake of the same-named Danish movie from 2006.
What's the story?
Searing drama AFTER THE WEDDING follows Isabel (Michelle Williams), who travels to New York to meet wealthy benefactor Theresa (Julianne Moore) in hopes of securing a donation. But Theresa has more on her mind than just writing a fat check. When she invites Isabel to attend her daughter Grace's (Abby Quinn) wedding, Isabel learns that much more connects her to Theresa, Grace, and Grace's dad, Oscar (Billy Crudup), than Isabel would have imagined -- and that there's a devastating decision she must make that will change all of their lives forever.
Is it any good?
Based on the same-named 2006 Danish drama, this remake scores by gender-flipping the action and putting the story's emotional weight on powerhouses Moore and Williams. In the original, a pair of fathers arm-wrestled over money and family; this version shrewdly preserves the 2006 film's devastating twists but transfers main-character status to Isabel and Theresa. The gamble pays off, with Moore giving a towering performance that will wring tears from sensitive viewers and Williams going subtle-yet-devastating in the role of a woman caught by circumstance in a life she never chose.
Since some of the best bits of this quiet, emotional gut-punch of a film are the startling revelations that shift the movie's path from where you thought it was going to another place altogether, it's best to go in not knowing very much (no spoilers here!). Suffice it to say that every character feels like a real person who's going through devastating changes and making choices that impact the lives of those around them for better or for worse. "Help me!" pleads Theresa of Isabel, who offers limitless compassion to the orphans in her care but views Theresa with deep suspicion. "Do I have to be halfway around the world to get your help?" As Isabel undergoes a crisis of conscience, she wonders the same thing. Is her charity work in India just a way to cover up for the gaping holes she left back home? And is there any chance at this point of charting a different course? Her struggle is painful to watch, but what emerges is simply beautiful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies that gender-flip characters. Can you think of examples of characters who were originally conceived of as one gender, yet ultimately depicted by a different gender? How does this change plot or characterization, if at all? Why do you think filmmakers sometimes make this choice?
Are viewers supposed to like and relate to Isabel and Theresa? How can you tell? How do we know who to trust and relate to in a drama like this? How are characters' inner lives and motivations revealed?
- In theaters: August 9, 2019
- Cast: Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup
- Director: Bart Freundlich
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Communication, Compassion
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material and some strong language
- Last updated: August 06, 2019
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