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Friday, July 12

After the Wedding by Susanne Bier

There is this natural tendency in us to repeat behaviours, situations or relationships that we enjoy. Sometimes, we like the feeling so much that we turn it into an obsession which does not necessarily have to be an unhealthy thing. What would I be without my daily fancies? A lot more boring, plain, sane, predictable and ordinary. Now, who would want such a being around them? This intro has a point in making it so very clear, if necessary, that I have grown to love Danish cinema and Susanne Bier, in particular. So for the time being, this is my healthy obsession.


After the Wedding (2006) is a well-acted and well-directed drama about a family torn apart by life's unexpectedness. In the movie, Jacob (the incredible Mads Mikkelsen, who made his name internationally as the bad guy in Casino Royale) is an unambitious idealist who helps running an orphanage in India. In an attempt to get funding for his project, Jacob is forced to fly to his native Denmark, after a twenty-year break, at the whim of the businessman Jorgen (Rolf Lassgard), who wishes to invest in the poor children's future. Jorgen asks for a little time to consider the situation and invites Jacob to his daughter Anna's wedding. Reluctantly, Jacob accepts the invitation only to discover that Jorgen's wife, Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen), is his past love. Drama deepens when the big family gathering is disrupted by Jacob's discovery.
Revelations are always shattering and to continue the rest of the story would be a spoiler. It is an engaging film that will keep you emotionally connected and create a sense of intimacy between you and the characters. Mikkelsen, who played the lead in Open Hearts,  makes Jacob an earnest man who finds himself entrapped in his donor's schemes. His face speaks a million of words and his eyes mirror the wide range of emotions that fill his heart. He is a simple man in a shabby suit that faces the surprise of his life in such a natural way that instantly wins you over. Rolf Lassgard as Jorgen is a manipulative, yet tender husband and father, who wants to protect his family and his heavy figure makes a touching contrast with his sensitive outburst. Great performances add up to the movie's incredible directing, though.   


Susanne Bier is part of Lars von Trier's Dogme movement but has taken a more personal approach to her movies and her regular work with producer Sisse Graum Jorgensen and actor/writer Anders Thomas Jensen has positive effects. You can easily recognise the great family mansion as a trademark of Danish movies, the hand-shot use of the camera, the non-artificial locations or the Swedish composer Johan Soderqvist’s strange music. Danish cinema is becoming stronger and stronger and its great performers and directors are talented enough to take by storm the world cinematography.
  
Our obsessions should be embraced and turned into positive opportunities to grow. Whether they are about movies, book characters and simply chocolate, they make excellent pastimes and enriching experiences. If we are unable of doing great things, we can try to do little things in a great way, right?