Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore make After the Wedding their own at Sundance

Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore have a motherly take on their After the Wedding remake. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

If you saw the original After the Wedding, the idea of a remake starring two women should be very interesting to you. The original was about a man who attends a businessman’s wedding and discovers that the man’s wife is his ex and the bride is his daughter he never knew she had.

How does a woman discover she had a long lost daughter? They figured it out it gives the proceeding drama new forces at work due to these factors.

Isabel (Michelle Williams) runs an orphanage in India. Theresa (Julianne Moore) wants to donate but insists Isabel come to New York for a meeting.

There, she invites Isabel to her daughter Grace (Abby Quinn)’s wedding. Isabel recognizes Theresa’s husband Oscar (Billy Crudup) as her ex and when she hears Grace’s story about her single father, Isabel starts to put things together.

Isabel and Oscar had a baby and put her up for adoption. Only after Isabel left, Oscar changed his mind. That is quite a different drama.

That’s not just depriving a parent of knowing their child. It’s literally taking back a decision they presumably agreed upon, and changing Oscar’s mind without even consulting Isabel.

A lot of the same scenes play out (even some exact dialogue) but they mean different things to two women arguing. From the beginning Theresa is condescending to Isabel for choosing work over having a family. Isabel and Theresa have different weapons in the same confrontations than two men did in the original.

Now Grace is dealing with the choice her biological mother made to give her up. That’s something different than learning your father was someone else. Isabel looks through Grace’s photo albums to see the life she missed.

Williams and Moore add some great individual touches to their characters. I love how Isabel keeps kicking off her shoes because she’s such a nature girl and shoes are a societal construct.

Grace and her father’s relationship is similar to the one the daughter has with her mother in the original. They’re each parents who kept  a secret from their child.

Theresa is the nonbiological parent in the scenario. Being a woman in this adaptation doesn’t change the way she manipulates the situation to her own ends, using her child as a pawn.

After the Wedding remains a powerful drama. As remakes go, this one makes a strong case for both existing. You can explore the drama of fathers coming to terms with this scenario and mothers coming to terms with it. Both are worthwhile.

Sony Pictures Classics will release After the Wedding later this year.

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