AFTER THE WEDDING (Susanne Bier). 120 minutes. Opens Friday (April 13). Subtitled. For venues and times, see Movies, page 98. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The journey is just fine. The ending's a letdown. Danish director Susanne Bier and writer Anders Thomas Jensen have crafted a fine drama filled with strong characters, solid plot turns and very interesting moral dilemmas, but they stop just when things are getting really interesting.
A Danish aid worker, long resident in India, returns to Copenhagen to receive, he thinks, a grant for his orphanage. Instead, he finds himself manipulated into entanglement in the lives of the donor, a wealthy industrialist, and his family. But to what end?
Mads Mikkelsen , best known as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, does a fine job as the conflicted, resentful aid worker, but the movie belongs to Rolf Lassgård 's manipulative industrialist. Lassg&229:rd, who's unknown over here (unless you caught him as Gunvald Larsson in the Martin Beck thrillers on Showcase), has a powerful presence and considerable range and depth. He uses them to their fullest here, turning what could have been a cliché into a rich character portrait.
Sadly, Mikkelsen's aid worker, the story's real centre, isn't as fully written, and the story stops just when his responses reach the critical point, leaving us with the feeling that there's a second movie we're not seeing.
Bier shoots her drama like a thriller, with lots of jump cuts and ominous close-ups. It makes sense in terms of the manipulations and secrets flying around, and it keeps things moving, but it also raises expectations of a big climax that just doesn't arrive. Too bad.