After The Wedding Review – Four Stars, Perfect, Powerful, Riveting

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After The Wedding, from Sony Pictures Classic, presents an absorbing and captivating story of change, the intersection of destiny, and the cruelty of fate as life presents the opportunity for second chances and new beginnings.

Directed and written by Bart Freundlich, After the Wedding stars Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup, Michelle Williams, Abby Quinn, Alex Esola, Azhy Robertson, Tre Ryder, Susan Blackwell, Will Chase, Eisa Davis, Anjula Bedi, Vir Pachisia. After the Wedding is based on the film "Efter Brylluppet" by Anders Thomas Jensen.

After the Wedding begins with a wide shot of Calcutta, India, the vast countryside, narrowing past the women gathering water, to a small group of children, in meditation position pausing as they follow the direction of their teacher, played by Michelle Williams.

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The last member of our student meditation group, a small boy lies on his mat, uninterested in meditation as boyhood imaginations draw him, the sky opens before his eyes, bird hand puppets now fly close to the sun. His stirrings, as he attempts to draw others into his imaginations, brings the scrutiny of teacher Isabel.

Which is when we meet Jai, played by Vir Pachisia, who explains to teacher Isabel, played by Michelle Williams, today he just didn't want to close his eyes. We find out as they return to the Orphanage, the supplies they were promised just weren't available, and as the funding is running dangerously low.

A stateside media company looking for charitable investments has processed their application and want to meet Isabel and have her complete the presentation in the New York office with the owner. Her hesitation when Preena, played by Anjula Bedi, the administrator for the orphanage explains they want her seems more reserved than deceptive even as it will mean $5 million.

Of course, even with her personal unwillingness to head back to the US, she boards the plane and immediately upon arrival Isabel begins to receive the star treatment. Of course, every aspect of her stay has been planned by Theresa Young, played by Julianne Moore, who for some reason which has yet to be discovered has decided on this her charity to support.

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The worlds of Isabel and Theresa couldn't be more different. Theresa and her successful artist husband, Oscar, played by Billy Crudup, live ocean front on Long Island, in an enclave where the stress of the city, and the pressures of creating a global company, evaporate.

Isabel and Theresa finally meet in her palatial office, just as we find out her daughter Grace, played by Abby Quinn, is getting married this weekend and all the details, and parties, have caused a backup in planning and would you mind staying until Monday, she continues in one breath, asking a question that she already knows the answer.

Isabel attempts to play hardball reiterating a list of prepared reasons why she needs to return and can't extend the stay, which they both knew wouldn't work and yet for some still unknown reason Isabel, since she has landed she has been a simmering volcano. Possibly the excess creates a violent clash with her principles as children in Calcutta are starving.

She arrives at the wedding late, her entire behavior just screams a dislike of what this person who can casually give her enough money to fund what has become her life, and as she slides into an empty seat, she sees Oscar, the father of the bride, and she freezes, he turns and in an instant we see a reaction.

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Sneaking out to the house she finds a specialty art book which has Oscar on the cover. After the ceremony he finds her and asks her what she is doing here, when Theresa approaches them and exchange pleasantries, and then Grace, the bride and her husband, are posing, and pulling Isabel into the picture.

When they leave, she turns to Oscar and their exchange is the first bombshell and we finally begin to understand her.

What follows is masterful.  An emotional shock-wave as the cataclysmic intersections of life, destinies, hidden decisions, an unveiling of layers, revelations of truth, of surrender and attempts to find peace all come together.

The casting was brilliant, and the performances were master class. Captivating and riveting with gripping emotive and emotionally charged moments. Real and authentic. Impressive.

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It's a perfect film and the emotional level and quality of acting, which the world expects from Ms. Moore and Ms. Williams, was evident across the board with all.

Mr. Crudup was impressive. He exhibited more maturity and depth with nuances, shades, tones and the subtleties of emotional recognition than any previous role he has played. After the Wedding is crackling with intensity and Abby Quinn, also rode this emotional roller coaster matching note for note as revelations bring her to suddenly different decisions.

After the Wedding is the first real awards contender of the 2019 season, a four star, tour de force masterpiece. It opens August 9, 2019. See it.

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