I went to see AFTER THE WEEKEND this past weekend, and was fortunate to have Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich come in afterwards for a Q&A about the movie. It’s a remake of a Danish movie (Oscar-nominated!) from a few years ago, and they switched genders in the remaking, and it made for a very interesting take on the whole situation and interaction between the characters.
Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup and newcomer Abby Quinn have a lot of emotional weight to carry and do a great job. And the contrasts between India (Michelle works at an orphanage there) and New York (where she goes to get funding from the orphanage) are both emphasized and linked, as the hustle and bustle walking in New York or shopping in a market are balanced. And there are quiet moments of fun and joy in India, with bit dark moments as well.
But what also struck me—and the woman behind who said to her friend that she thought his must be from a great summer read of a book—is the treatment of the quiet and the loud. The movie lets the silences linger and the actors show their anger and fear and unease, and that’s something very hard to do. These actors live their confusion and inner lives very well.
If it was a novel, I don’t know if Theresa’s (Julianna Moore) breakdown would be as effective as seeing it on screen. The loss of a control by a woman who lives to control others is personal and grief-filled, and getting that on the page would make it feel overwrought and require too much repetition and make me want to hold back. But on the screen, it worked for me!
On the other hand, that intense internal life leaves a lot to be desired. I want to know more about some of the motivations, some of the links that make the background of the characters clearer. There’s something about Isabel’s (Michelle Williams) background that’s tossed up that is so intriguing that I want a conversation about that. Or about other Grace’s (Abby Quinn) decisions regarding her marriage. (Trying not to give too much away!).
So yes, I think I enjoyed the performances in the movie, it was quite emotional and tears were flowing all around me, but I wanted a touch more and would probably have really enjoyed the book for the detail, but wouldn’t have wanted it to linger in the emotions in the way the movie allows.
I’m lucky I got the one at least, and will enjoy the memory!
Oh, some of the non-spoiler questions – the movie was done in a month in the NYC setting, and then they spent about four days filming in India. Which I think is amazing acting for Michelle to cram the whole arc of her character, things she’d already filmed with these scenes that were woven through the full movie.
The choice of Billy Crudup crying was specifically on the page of the script, as was the fixing of the collar of another character and such. In fact, when asked, Bart said when he talked to Julianne about the idea of gender-flipping the characters and was she interested, she said yes—but she had to see the script first. She loved the idea, but needed to know that the script was great and starts off with that basis.
And one thing she also talked about was how she was attracted to the anger in Theresa’s character. The role was tough in many ways, but being able to show Theresa’s anger in subtle, direct and overwhelming ways was something she enjoyed about the character.
So yes, there were some coincidences—and things that turned out not to be coincidences—and some contrivances and some unanswered questions and motivations and some that worked. But overall, the movie did what movies and books do best—take me on an emotional journey, let me understand some of the pain and internal life of the characters and make me think about what I might do in the situation.
I was moved in the moment and the fact I wanted to know more about the characters, their reactions, what was behind their inner lives and the emotional outbursts is a good sign!
Have you seen it? What did you think?