AFTER THE WEDDING A reformist disciple of Dogme 95, director Susanne Bier (Open Hearts, Brothers) here caps her post-9/11 trauma trilogy with a movie that has less to do with a terrorizing event—a bad breakup, in this case—than with that event’s collateral damage, namely trust. Still licking his heart’s wounds after 20 years, Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen) works at an orphanage in Bombay and vows never to return to Copenhagen, scene of the romantic crime. Muscular, oddly handsome, funny and adoring of children, Jacob is introduced scooping rice for hordes of young Indian kids. Will we ever learn what kind of woman would dream of dumping this veritable saint? Coincidence, the mistress of melodrama, comes calling: Jacob gets an invitation from a Danish CEO (Rolf Lassgård) to apply for charitable funds that could get his orphanage the supplies it sorely needs, but only on condition that he fly to Copenhagen for a personal meeting.
As before, Bier dares you to deem her work absurd; here, she also forces us to recognize that we wouldn’t blindly trust a movie’s good Samaritanism any more than Jacob would believe in pennies from heaven. And no wonder: we’ve all been burned. But After the Wedding is a gift. Bier is like Douglas Sirk reborn as a digital neorealist, and the riveting Mikkelsen displays the self-conscious jitter of the young Pacino. It’s no surprise that the director is Hollywood bound: both Brothers and Open Hearts are being remade, the latter by Zach Braff; Bier’s English-language debut, already in the can, is a DreamWorks production with Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro. If this prodigiously gifted director were filming her career, the movie—call it After the Crash—would be about whether we can count on American dreamworkers not to turn her into Paul Haggis. In Danish, English, Hindi and Swedish with English subtitles. —Rob Nelson (Opens Friday at Green Hills)
THE EX When career slacker Tom (Zach Braff) gets fired from his latest job, he packs up his wife Sofia (Amanda Peet) and their newborn kid and trades life in the Big Apple for the calming pleasures of small-town Ohio—Sherwood Anderson country. There, he takes up his sad-sack father-in-law (Charles Grodin) on the offer of an “assistant associate creative” position in a new-agey advertising company, only to find himself under the thumb of Sofia’s paraplegic former high school classmate (and possible ex-flame), Chip (Jason Bateman), a seemingly benevolent cripple who’s really a Machiavelli on wheels. That’s an inspired starting place for a farce, and director Jesse Peretz (working from a sometimes tasteless, often insidiously funny script by first-time screenwriters David Guion and Michael Handelman) has a knack for casting the kind of bright comic talent—Amy Adams, Donal Logue, Mia Farrow and Paul Rudd round out the ensemble—who more or less just have to show up. The movie is Bateman’s to steal, however, which he does early and often—whether re-enacting an old high-school cheerleading routine or trying to seduce Sofia by showing her the money shot from one of his favorite movies: Coming Home. —Scott Foundas (Opens Friday)
GEORGIA RULE Three noisy women and a worn-out premise rattle around trying to make contact in director Garry Marshall’s incoherent dramedy of rampant parental insufficiency. Rachel (Lindsay Lohan), a wild teen who has sinned and lied about it one time too many, is dispatched by her willfully myopic lush of a mother (Felicity Huffman) to Idaho, where, it is hoped, she will undergo a character makeover at the hand of her rule-bound grandmother Georgia (Jane Fonda) and a town full of smiling Mormons preaching premarital virginity and other red-state virtues. Notwithstanding her frequent invocation of the Almighty, Georgia gives as good as she gets, exhorting her grandchild to go fuck herself and stuffing soap into the child’s mouth as needed. (The best that can be said for Fonda’s role is that it is marginally less gruesome than the manipulative maternal virago she played two years ago in Monster-in-Law.) Once the family skeleton marches out of its closet and the therapeutic blather sets in, there’s almost no rescuing this wobbly movie from its showdowns and insights. Except, that is, when Lohan’s around. Even with that well-documented freak-out on the movie’s set, Lohan remains a self-possessed, vitally carnal and intelligent screen presence. —Ella Taylor (Opens Friday)
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