CIT Casting Review: After the Wedding (2006)

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After the Wedding explores parental responsibility, guilt, and death in all of their individual facets

Weddings should be a time of elation and merriment, to celebrate the joining of two lovers that have found their ever-evasive ‘happily ever after.’ Through the course of watching After the Wedding (Efter brylluppet) 2006, however, viewers are left thinking of everything but wedded bliss. An ailing billionaire, a cheating, newly married scumbag, and a father’s incredible realization of his child’s existence 20 years after her birth— After the Wedding has it all. This critically acclaimed, Academy Award Nominated film was excessively dramatic in its plot twists and manipulative storyline, but the brilliance of the actors involved tied the film together beautifully. Directed by Susanne Bier— also known for directing the feature films Brothers and Academy Award Winner In A Better World— this film explores parental responsibility, guilt, and death in all of their facets.

 

Lene Seested, talent agent and casting director for this film, has a unique talent for finding Danish and Swedish talent. Her ability to find brilliant actors that have not been saturated in the American film industry is refreshing, and it is essential for these casting directors to have access to a wide array of talent in this new technological age. Lene capitalizes on this, and the critical success of this film has introduced exceptional Danish actors to viewers all over the world. Mads Mikkelsen perfectly plays Jacob Pederson , a reformed drug addict and alcoholic, who unexpectedly revisits a past he would prefer to forget. Jacob resides in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, running an orphanage in one of the most populated, destitute shanty towns in India. Anand Orphanage and School’s resources are spread increasingly thin, and it is on the brink of closure for lack of funds. Danish billionaire Jørgen Hansson (Rolf Lassgård) takes a special interest in funding this orphanage under one condition—that Jacob fly to Denmark to meet him in person. Jacob is trepidatious at the thought of this journey to his home country but feels he has no other option. Jacob promises to return for his adopted son Pramod’s birthday in eight days, which at the time seems more than enough time to shake the billionaire’s hand and sign the necessary papers.

 

Jacob arrives in Denmark and is given the 5 star treatment—drivers, opulent hotel suites—a glaringly obvious contrast to his usual Mumbai surroundings. Jørgen seems lackadaisical in finalizing plans to fund Jacob’s project, saying he had not yet made a decision on what project to fund. Jørgen invites Jacob to his daughter Anna’s wedding the very next day. Confused yet eager to get back to Mumbai, Jacob agrees to attend. Helene, Jørgen’s current wife and Jacob’s ex of 20 years prior, is formally introduced to Jacob, and after a few moments of awkward conversation the wedding festivities continue.

 

Anna makes a speech during the wedding reception and reveals that Jørgen is not her biological father, and after putting two and two together Jacob realizes the woman getting married before him is his own daughter. Jacob is furious that this is the first time he is just learning he has a daughter, but the two meet and despite the awkwardness of the situation, they get along rather well.

 

Jørgen once again drags his feet in regard to the funding negotiations, much to the dismay of Jacob, whose return for Pramod’s birthday is seeming less and less likely. Jørgen discloses that he will create a foundation in Jacob’s and Anna’s name and fund it with twelve million dollars. One of the conditions of the contract is that Jacob must live in Denmark. An enraged Jacob vacates the office, but is soon stopped by Jørgen himself, who reveals he is terminally ill and on the last leg of his life. Jørgen had brought Jacob to Denmark so he could care for Anna and Helene, as well as Jørgen’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, her new husband, with another woman. Jacob comforts her, realizing her need for him in her life. He signs the contract with Jørgen with the conditions intact.

 

Following the tornado of events that occur-namely Jørgen’s birthday party, his dramatic breakdown over his impending demise, and his subsequent funeral-the story cuts to Jacob’s return to India. When he arrives at the orphanage, construction is well underway. Displaying a most-needed, satisfying sense of accomplishment, Jacob invites Pramod to move to Denmark with him so they would not need to live apart but Pramod decides to stay in his home country. Pramod’s refusal to live with his adoptive father stings, but taking a child from the only home he knows would be even more regrettable than having to leave him behind. Jacob and Pramod, through the missed birthday and time apart, come together and are finally at peace with being apart. Jacob’s withdrawal from his life in India is a harmonious ending of one part of his life, and the beginning of another with his biological daughter.

 

This film has something every viewer can relate to—whether it be the heartbreak of a relationship crumbling, the panic and confusion of a loved one’s impending death, or even in some extremely rare instances, discovering you have a daughter on her wedding day. Despite its sensational storyline, After the Wedding felt believable and real. Each character is seen in their most fragile state, and it felt refreshingly human. We, in our own uniqueness, react differently to shocking, angering, heartbreaking situations. After the Wedding capitalized on these differences, while connecting each of the characters through them. The popular and critical success of this movie was undoubtedly due to Lene Seested’s brilliant casting, and of course the remarkable talent of the selected actors. This story dissects parental responsibility, infidelity, and mortality in a beautifully moving way. After the rapid succession of events unfolds, viewers are left with a sweet sense of satisfaction knowing that each of the characters they have come to care deeply for, have come to an amicable resolution.

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Maddie