After The Wedding, Susanne Bier’s Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee from 2006, is a complex and riveting story with numerous dense layers that unpeel like an onion. The narrative comprises so many surprising - yet ultimately logical - twists that it’s difficult to provide even a cursory synopsis without giving away vital secrets. Suffice to say that if you enjoy mystery, suspense and emotional intensity, you will find After The Wedding a highly satisfying watch.
The cast, at the time largely unknown outside of Denmark, are in tiptop form. Mads Mikkelsen and Rolf Lassgard, playing polar opposites, have a fascinating chemistry, and their slow simmering conflict will have profound effects half a world away. Sidse Babett Knudsen, who would find stardom in the TV series Borgen, is the film’s keeper of secrets, and serves as the story’s fulcrum. But equally impressive is Stine Fischer Christensen as the newlywed daughter who, just as she about to begin her life, finds its underpinnings swept away. Christensen is capable of transmitting deep emotion with a minimum of physical technique, and here’s hoping she lands a breakout role soon.
If After The Wedding can be said to have a weakness, it would have to be Bier’s unnecessary epilogue, which ties everything up a tad too neatly. The film’s aftermath had been clearly foreshadowed in the final act, and it seems Bier lost a little faith in the sophistication of her audience. In recent films, Bier also appears to have lost her artistic mojo with the dreadful Love Is All You Need (2012) and the troubled Serena (2014) failing to find any traction with audiences. She is currently directing the miniseries The Night Manager, a spy thriller premiering on AMC this April. Let’s hope Susanne Bier finds her way out of this winter of mediocrity, and returns to the elegant, clever storytelling of After The Wedding.