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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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'After the Wedding': Danish thriller keeps emotions in check
By Steve Persall, Times Film Critic
Published June 21, 2007
After the Wedding (R) (120 min.)B+ -- Danish director Susanne Bier somehow resists making this story of lost chances and regained lives into a soap opera. After the Wedding retains a bitter edge of honesty that makes each melodramatic move easier to swallow.
Mads Mikkelsen, who wept blood as Casino Royale's villain, is outwardly stoic as Jacob, whom we meet when he's caring for Bombay orphans - the kind of work that only a saint or a repenting sinner would undertake. Jacob is the latter, as the screenplay by Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen gradually reveals. Inwardly, Jacob slowly realizes that his vice-ridden past has caught up with him, perhaps by dark designs.
Jacob's orphanage is on the brink of financial ruin, so he accepts an invitation to return to Denmark to meet with a potential investor. Jorgen (Rolf Lassgard) is a multimillionaire whose casual attention to Jacob's pitch suggests he has something else in mind. Jorgen invites Jacob to attend his daughter's wedding the next day, and they will discuss the donation later.
During the ceremony, Jacob recognizes Jorgen's wife, Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen), as a lover from 20 years before. Doing the math, he realizes that the bride, Anna (Stine Fischer Christensen), may be his illegitimate daughter.
We aren't immediately certain if Jorgen arranged what appears to be a cosmic coincidence. What would he have to prove by doing such a thing? He loves his wife, and Anna long ago accepted him as her father after Helene admitted her fling. Jacob wasn't faithful and his drug habits weren't good parenting material, so there isn't any competition unless somebody knows something nobody else does.
Bier provides such a twist, the likes of which less talented filmmakers - i.e. any American thinking of a remake - would turn into Kleenex material and a climactic group hug. After the Wedding understates its emotions to fine effect, yet with a more approachable style than Bier's Danish counterparts bowing at the temple of Lars von Trier.
After the Wedding was among 2006 Academy Award nominees in the most competitive foreign language film race in years, alongside Pan's Labyrinth, Days of Glory and the surprise winner The Lives of Others. Shown with English subtitles.