A chilly, frustrating Danish film becomes a chilly, frustrating American one, as Susanne Bier’s original 2006 version of ‘After the Wedding’ gets a gender swap with no discernible improvement. In the opening moments, Isabel (Michelle Williams) can be seen meditating in India, where she heads up a charity and feeds shoeless kids; then we meet self-made media exec Theresa ((Julianne Moore, channeling hints of her brittle turns in ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Safe’) as she cruises up to her palatial Long Island mansion shout-singing Lady Gaga.
Quickly, an economic disparity is established between them. But the film, over-directed by Bart Freundlich (also Moore’s husband), sticks an obnoxious, Nancy Meyers-like emphasis on wealthy, lacquered interiors. Yes, there’s a wedding, an elegant outdoor affair in which we see the menu cards, the his-and-her cocktail options, the seafood risotto. It’s here that Theresa and her handsome artist husband Oscar (Billy Crudup) find themselves confronted by do-gooder Isabel, in town to receive a grant from Theresa and invited to the nuptials almost as an afterthought. One revealing toast from the bride, though, changes everything.
‘After the Wedding’ contains enough domestic revelations for several seasons of a ‘Big Little Lies’-like show, but its showdowns all seem to fizzle out. Moore does vodka-swilling fury better than anyone, so why not unleash it properly? And Williams stews rather than blazes. We’re waiting for this pressure cooker of a scenario to go nuclear and spill radioactive gunk all over the pretty, expensive stuff. It never happens, and for all the actors’ impeccable restraint, something is missing as a result.