This review was written for the festival screening of “After the Wedding.”
A filmmaker who excels in peeling back those delicate layers of human frailty, Denmark’s Susanne Bier returns to Toronto, which premiered her previous two films, with another powerful family portrait.
In “After the Wedding,” a festival Gala presentation for which Bier again collaborated with her “Open Hearts” screenwriter, Anders Thomas Jensen, the ever-versatile Mads Mikkelsen plays the part of Jacob, a lonely Dane who has dedicated his life to helping street kids in a struggling Indian orphanage.
Help is potentially on its way in the form of a generous offer from a wealthy businessman back in Copenhagen, with the proviso that Jacob return to meet his would-be benefactor in person.
But the gregarious, forceful Jorgen (Rolf Lassgard) proves to have more to offer him than a fat checkbook. Reluctantly agreeing to Jorgen’s invitation to attend his daughter’s wedding the next day, Jacob unwittingly opens a window on his long-shuttered past.
Once again Bier demonstrates just how misleading appearances can be, as she artfully removes the veneers concealing the dark truths locked away by her intriguing characters.
And once again her cast proves adept at navigating both the surface and those tricky undercurrents of deceit. While Mikkelsen and Lassgard are required to do the bulk of the emotional heavy-lifting, young newcomer Stine Fischer Christensen, as Lassgard’s sheltered daughter, and Sidse Babett Knudsen, as his emotionally reserved wife, turn in equally affecting, respectfully cliche-free performances.