There aren’t many meaty roles for actors of the calibre of Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams nowadays. Which might explain why they’ve each signed up for a middling, middlebrow melodrama like After the Wedding. An English-language, gender-flipped remake of Susanne Bier’s Oscar-nominated 2006 film of the same name, it’s certainly an upgrade from the likes of Kingsman: The Golden Circle or Venom in the thespian stakes.
After the Wedding’s storyline isn’t anything to write home about; after feinting at being a story about Williams’ character finagling funds out of Moore’s multi-millionaire for a remote Indian school, it settles into a familial drama about (big) secrets.
This is mostly an excuse for the two actresses to demonstrate distinct schools of acting: Williams, restrained and minimalistic, Moore, histrionic and extravagant. My personal preference here is for the latter – Moore’s maximalism is frequently heart-wrenching, while enlivening writer-director’s Bart Freunchlich’s generic aesthetic – but, look, they’re what you’re watching the movie for and they do enough to keep After the Wedding afloat.
It certainly helps that they have real people to play; while you might initially characterise one as benevolent, the other as selfish, the screenplay carefully shades in its sketches with conflicts and contradictions.