After the Wedding is an intensely personal portrait of two women

After the Wedding movie. Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
After the Wedding movie. Credit: Sony Pictures Classics /

After the Wedding is an intensely personal portrait of two women finding a connection in their shared grief, anchored by powerhouse performances by Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams.

Beginning in the vibrant richness of India’s color palette, After the Wedding immediately makes you forget its small-scale production. Despite the fact this is a movie that values intrinsically-motivated camera pans and intimate close-ups, it maintains a vital presence from frame to frame to wholly engage its audience.

I admit before I began this film, I thought it might be along the lines of a mumblecore movie. Potentially dry and slow, ultimately building up to little more than a long-running conversation. I’m happy to say I was sorely mistaken. Despite running for approximately an hour and 50 minutes, After the Wedding wastes no time in ushering in its plotline nor in introducing the central characters and the core mysteries.

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Isabel (Michelle Williams) runs an orphanage in India, hence the film’s opening. She is passionate about her work and has a connection with one of the boys there. You can sense she feels a maternal bond towards him that is put in jeopardy when she must fly to New York to meet with potential benefactor, Theresa (Julianne Moore).

Despite the love of her job and distaste for all things lavish, Isabel cannot deny the orphanage is in dire need of more funding. While in New York, she finds herself inexplicably invited to the wedding of Theresa’s daughter, Grace (Abby Quinn). She also crosses paths with Theresa’s husband, Oscar (Billy Crudup, who gives a quiet, but compelling performance here).

We quickly learn there is a deeper connection between Isabel and this family than we could have anticipated. Serendipity had something in store for Isabel, Theresa, and Oscar all along.

After the Wedding
After the Wedding movie. Credit: Sony Pictures Classics /

There is no aimless wandering or pontificating. We are here to focus on a family and little else. I appreciate a movie that understands the story it’s telling and sets out to do it without adding unnecessary padding or dull excess dialogue.

That said, I think I could watch Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams recite the phone book back and forth to one another and still be riveted. As always, the two actresses shine here.

Although, perhaps my one issue with the movie is with Moore’s character, Theresa. Due to the film’s pacing, I didn’t feel like we got to spend enough time with her. I wish we had gotten to know her on the same profound level we understand Isabel by the film’s ending.

After the Wedding
After the Wedding movie. Credit: Sony Pictures Classics /

When one of the significant bombshells about Theresa is revealed, it initially fell flat due to the lack of emotional urgency surrounding the character. Moore’s dynamic performance elevates the material she’s given in this regard. She stuns in a raw and poignant portrayal of a woman struggling to come to terms with the cards she’s been dealt.

As I haven’t seen the original movie, I can’t speak to whether or not this remake was warranted. I can only comment on my experience with this movie alone.

I felt thoroughly engrossed with After the Wedding. It packed the weighted emotional punch it intended to. This was undoubtedly helped along by Moore’s final scenes and the bittersweet film ending.

By the time the credits rolled, I felt deeply moved and enriched by the characters and their stories. Sometimes it’s nice to remember movies can be about one small group of people, one family, and still resonate without all the glitz and blockbuster action.

After the Wedding: Interview with film cinematographer. dark. Next

If you’ve had the chance to see After the Wedding, what did you think of it? Do you plan on seeing the film if you haven’t yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

After the Wedding is now playing in select theaters nationwide.