April 25, 2016

After the Banquet: I'm Reminded of a Day-Old Danish

It's not often that a movie's creators namecheck their inspiration directly in the opening credits but that's just what director Kim Yun-cheul and his screenwriter Rie Yokota have done in After the Banquet. The movie that inspired them is After the Wedding, an amazing, emotionally naked Danish movie about an expat teacher/drifter working at an orphanage in the slums of India who's suddenly called back to Denmark to witness the marriage of the daughter he didn't know he'd had. Susanne Bier's film is a remarkable piece of work, a gut-wrenching family drama all about the dictates of money and the debts of blood. You can see how Kim and Yokota would want to make it their own. You can also understand how they'd want to avoid duplicating it too closely since it's so exquisite as it is.

Too bad all the changes they make to distinguish their variation, lower the stakes. For whereas the original had a wedding guest suddenly coming face to face with an old flame, a new relation, and his ongoing shortcomings, the update has a recently orphaned daughter (a cloying Ko Ah-sung) searching for her long lost daddy among the male wedding guests, most of whom slept with her carefree mom. Because of that, After the Banquet owes a lot more to Mamma Mia! — my vote for Meryl Streep's worst movie — than it does to After the Wedding. The kindest thing you can say when comparing After the Wedding and After the Banquet is that they both find equally handsome grooms in their leading men: Mads Mikkelsen and Shin Sung-woo. Yet even here any comparisons put the Koreans in a distant second place: Mikkelsen's stardom was instantaneous with the mid-'90s international hit Pusher; his luminosity only increasing once he exploded stateside with NBC's Hannibal. As for Shin, while he too hit it big time in the mid-'90s (as a rock star), his subsequent acting career has been primarily Korean soaps. Definitely, a less glamorous story. Still, you gotta love Shin's man-bun.

No comments:

Post a Comment