I think Denmark has produced better, substantial and more challenging cinema than the U.S in the past decade. We saw the egression of some notable talents from the country. Nicolas Winding Refn, Thomas Vinterberg, Susanne Bier and Ole Christian Madsen are the most prominent of them. Some of them have moved to Hollywood and their films may have grown a little bigger in scale, but they haven’t lost their individuality. I recently caught Susanne Bier’s After the Wedding and it was one of the most powerful cinema experiences I’ve had. It is one of those films I wish I had made.
Mads Mikkelsen plays Jacob Petersen, who works as a caretaker of an Indian orphanage. He shares a special bond with Pramod (Neeral Mulchandani), a young boy whom he had cared for ever since his birth. The director of the orphanage Mrs. Shaw (Meenal Patel) reminds him that the orphanage is on the verge of a shutdown as they are running out of money. She informs him that an offer for funding has come through from from his native Denmark and persuades him to go there personally to meet the corporation behind this offer and try to finalize the deal. Pramod isn’t happy to hear this but Jacob promises to return for Pramod’s birthday, which is after a week. The CEO of this corporation Jorgen Hannson (Rolf Lassgard) meets with him personally. After the negotiation, Jorgen invites Jacob to his daughter’s wedding and this baffles Jacob. He decides to attend and once at the wedding, he is surprised to learn that Jorgen’s wife is his former girlfriend who had left him many years ago. He realizes that there is a reason why he was called to Denmark. He learns some painful truths that will change his life drastically. I do not wish to divulge further as this would spoil the plot.
The film’s sheer emotional power hits you like a sledgehammer. The performances from everyone involved are top-notch and stunningly authentic. It can possibly make you uncomfortable. That’s what realistic performances do. And I don’t think I have to tell you how good Mads Mikkelsen is. The man keeps delivering one flawless performance after another in every film that he does. 2006 certainly was a big year for Mads Mikkelsen. It also witnessed the release of Casino Royale (the definitive Bond film for me), which introduced Mikkelsen’s majestic talent to the rest of the world.The editing and handheld camera work are not distracting. It is fluid and intrusive and turns us into one of the participants. It’s an incredibly moving tale of love, loss, family and redemption.
I wish I could write about this film in detail but then that would ruin the experience for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet and I don’t want to be like one of those sadistic critics. My aim is to get you to watch a great film as soon as possible. After the Wedding is one of the best films of 2006. It was nominated in the Best Foreign Language category at the Oscars but did not win. I wish it had won instead of The Lives of Others, which I thought was good but overrated. Even Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth equally deserved to win.