Secrets, or what happens after secrets have been revealed!
Screenplay By: Anders Thomas Jensen
Directed By: Susanne Bier
The order of the day in Efter Brylluppet appears to be secrets. But, taking that away from the film is to only read the surface of Susanne Bier’s work. The real meat of Efter Brylluppet is in what happens after the secrets have been revealed.
The joy, and tragedy, of Efter Brylluppet comes from watching the films rich characters react as secrets are revealed. This is possible because of the great acting and Fraulein Bier’s willingness to focus on her actors reactions so intimately. There is no distance to be found in Efter Brylluppet, the problems faced by the characters are very real and the direction brings us in close so that as audience members we feel personally attached to their problems.
At first the characters we meet in Efter Brylluppet are quite guarded. It is evident that they have secrets, they have problems, they have facets of themselves that they do not want others to know about. The further along the film gets the more the characters open up in response to secrets coming to light. The more the characters open up the more I could relate to them and the more I could relate to them the more the themes of the film impacted me. The characters start the movie as guarded creatures, but they end the picture with their wounds and sores bared for all to see.
It would not be possible for the characters to have as much impact as they do if they were not in the hands of capable actors. Rolf Lassgård is cunning, powerful, and wounded as the business tycoon Jørgen. His opposite is Mads Mikkelsen as Jacob. He is blunt, careful, and afraid of failure. They are the two main characters of the film, but they are surrounded by a bevy of wonderful actors who have their own stories to tell and their own heartbreak to experience. Every performance is powerful, for different reasons. Pretty much every actor takes a reserved approach, but though the approaches may be similar the results are quite different. From a reserved starting point every performance branches out in its own direction so that the reveal of secrets helps to individualize each character.
Fraulein Bier is more then steady throughout Efter Brylluppet. Her camera oscillates between far shots to show the isolation that secrecy has caused for some characters to extreme close ups that show the pain in the eyes of people trying to adapt to secrets now revealed. Her technique as a director in Efter Brylluppet isn’t flashy, it does not call attention to itself. Yet, it is always clear that a filmmaker who knows her craft and understands the bared for all to see nature of her film is behind the wheel.
Efter Brylluppet is one of my all time favorites, and this revisit only strengthened its standing in my eyes. Fraulein Bier and company have created a film that speaks to universal truths in a way that is never cloying or overly sentimental. This film from Fraulein Bier is honest and sincere and features characters who feel tangibly real and full of life. Most of all Efter Brylluppet shows the power of secrecy and the even more powerful aspect of how people react to secrets. Some react well, some react badly, but they all react and it is in those reactions where the sum of humanity is laid out as clear as day in Efter Brylluppet.
Efter Brylluppet was okay, it kept my attention and there were a few parts that grabbed me visually. But, I never felt like I could really connect with the characters. I’m not sure why that was, maybe it was tied into the visual style of the film. For instance, focusing on the eyes with close-up shots looked cool but it didn’t grab me or add to the story in a way that I found compelling.
There’s nothing I didn’t like about Efter Brylluppet. At the same time there was nothing I found spectacular in the movie. The story line of the film was interesting, but the film was a whole failed to move me in any sort of big way. Efter Brylluppet is a movie I wouldn’t mind watching again if it were on the television, but it’s not a movie I would go out of my way to watch.