Isabel (Michelle Williams) helps manage an orphanage in India that is very strapped for cash. There’s a possibility of funding, but the investor stipulates that Isabel must come to New York in person, and Isabel isn’t keen to leave her little oasis or the children she loves dearly. But with serious money on the line and so many more children in need, she also can’t resist.
Her posh NYC accommodations are a stark contrast to the life she’s lived in India. Uncomfortable, she’s eager to get back, but the investor, Theresa (Julianne Moore), is adamant that she extend her stay. She even invites Isabel to her daughter’s wedding. Having promised not to return without “a suitcase full of money,” Isabel doesn’t want to disappoint her host, but it’s starting to feel as though Theresa has ulterior motives.
This is an American remake of a very good 2006 Danish film by Susanne Bier starring Mads Mikkelsen. This one isn’t bad, but it naturally suffers by comparison. This film, directed by Moore’s husband Bart Freundlich, swaps the genders of the leads and breaths a little bit of new life into the script because of it, but the only true reason to see this one at all is for restrained performances by its two formidable leading ladies (Billy Crudup, rounding out the cast, is at a disadvantage).
After the wedding is a very slight meditation on loss and regret but doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch of its predecessor. It’s definitely a quiet film about inner conflict, Williams suffering in near silence, Moore indulging in quite a fantastic display. If you watch it, watch it for them. But this film didn’t need to be remade. The first was so achingly perfect and less neatly resolved, its frayed edges lending it an authenticity that this highly-polished one lacks.