January 27, 2019

SHOWBUZZDAILY Sundance Film Festival Reviews: “After the Wedding” & “Adam”


AFTER THE WEDDING (no distrib):  The Danish 2006 After the Wedding, which won that year’s Best Foreign Film Oscar, was shot by director Suzanne Biers in the then-trendy Dogma style, heavy on pseudo-verite camerawork and lighting that imparted a sense of immediacy to the drama.  Bart Freundlich’s English-language remake dispenses with that style entirely.  On the contrary, Julio Macat’s cinematography gleams with all the smooth, swooping camera moves of a vintage Hollywood soap, and Mychael Danna’s busy orchestral score performs likewise (think Herbert Ross circa 1980)–and the material is revealed to fit that genre all too well.  The big switch this time is gender:  the industrialist whose daughter is about to marry and the children’s aid worker who is summoned to the wedding weekend with the dangling promise of a huge donation are now women (Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams, respectively).  Before the weekend is over, secrets are disclosed that go back decades, and everyone’s life is changed forever.  Admittedly there’s an added level of conflict when the nature of motherhood is on the table.  However, those matters are soon covered over by the contrivances of the plot, and eventually the difficult questions turn out to have easy answers.  Moore and Williams give sterling performances in the leads, wrenching every emotion out of the stock complications, and there’s fine work as well from Billy Crudup and Abby Quinn as Moore’s husband and daughter.  An entertaining piece of work, but not particularly insightful.

ADAM (no distrib):  A fresh twist (despite being set in 2006) on an old trope, the one about the fool who allows a lie to stand at the center of supposedly true love, and who has to pay the consequences in the end.  This time, though, the naive high school student Adam (the appealing Nicholas Alexander), in New York for a summer with his queer sister (Margaret Qualley), allows lesbian Gillian (Bobbi Salvor Menuez) to believe he’s a trans male, because while they would never admit attraction to a cis male, they find a trans one acceptable.  Rhys Ernst’s feature directing debut steps heavily on typical “indie” visual style, but his depiction of a New York subculture awash in gender complexity is convincing, and he pulls uniformly fine performances from the cast, which also includes the exceptional Leo Sheng as one of Adam’s sister’s roommates, a particularly tricky role.  The script by novelist Ariel Schrag has some big (and graphic) laughs, and preserves the humanity of almost all the characters.  Ultimately, despite the novel setting and plot mechanics, Adam goes down the road that all these “big lie” stories do, and the narrative loses some momentum, but much of the time this is an entertaining adaptation of classic comedy to modern times.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."