After scrolling through what seemed like hundreds of movies to find something that wasn't a horror, action, comic book-themed movie, I came upon a drama called, After the Wedding. Info said it was about memories stirred up by attending a wedding. Hell, I'm about memories, right? Weddings, right? It starred Julienne Moore and Michelle Williams, both actors I like. I hit Play.
Isabel, (Williams) works at an orphanage in India and is summed back to the US to secure a $2M donation for the orphanage. The rich lady (Moore as Theresa) considering the donation is insisting Isabel show up in person to make the pitch. Reluctantly, Isabel flies to New York City.
Once there, Isabel is ensconced in a luxe suite the size of a small house--in sharp contrast to her room at the orphanage--and after a quick lunch together, Theresa suggests she comes to her daughter's wedding the next day, where they will have a chance to get to know each other better. That seemed a bit flimsy--there isn't a lot of time for the mother of the bride at a wedding to "get to know" a new person, I thought, but you had to get Isabel to the wedding somehow. At the wedding at the very big house and grounds of Theresa and her artist husband, Oscar (Billy Crudup), it comes upon you rather quickly without words that Isabel knows Oscar --he's the key, right? Well, not only him but you the bride is the daughter Isabel and Oscar had when they were young and decided to give up for adoption.
Papers signed, Isabel splits for the Peace Corps; Oscar, an artist, hangs around New York City, and visits his daughter for most of the 30 days in which he had to revoke his permission for adoption. And in the end, does exactly that. (In New York now, you have 45 days to revoke and adoption.)
How did I chose this movie? Or all the movies in all the On Demand list...synchronicity. Or course, I'd find this movie.
Oscar met Theresa when the child was two, and by all accounts, Theresa has been not only a highly successful businesswoman, but also a good mother. Oscar and Theresa, incidentally, had twin boys several years later--after a lot of trouble, Theresa notes; they are now eight or so.
The rest of the story plays out quite well without maudlin or fake notes. The scenes between natural mother and daughter, and adoptive mother and daughter, are quietly written and acted and believable, even as the huge stirring up of emotions that this unleashes for most birth/first mothers is downplayed.
But everyone's different, right? Even women who sign termination papers for their children to be adopted. Having heard too many stories about birth mothers who do not want to reunite or even meet with their children who were adopted, I've long ago given up believing we are all the same. Though it pains me to write this, as I know who much this hurts the adoptee, how truly gut-wrenching this has to be, some mothers do refuse to meet their children who were adopted.
It's a somewhat soapy plot as I related the whole story to my husband the next morning, but stripped of its language, Pride and Prejudice can be seen as soapy too. After the Wedding has an ending that pleased me--unlike Juno, which made me angry--and though I am usually a big weeper, only when the credits were running, did I shed a few quick tears.
But finding a story about our issue, the issue that sits at the heart and center of most readers who find this blog, and see it portrayed well was refreshing and heart-warming. Isabel the birth mother is a good person; so is adoptive mother Theresa. And even though Oscar lied and told the daughter her mother had died, he's not bad either, just human, and reflects the stories that are often told adoptees. This movie has no demons.
After the Wedding is a small movie, came out in August, 2019 in a limited release, unlikely to ever win any awards, but for me, it was a satisfying, well-acted piece...about women like us. I'll take it.--lorraine
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