After the Wedding – The Predator Makes One Last Kill

After the Wedding (2006)

Spoiler Alert: The plot in this film contains a few “surprises”.  I do not discuss the plot of the film explicitly in this commentary, but I do make indirect reference to some of the “surprises” so do not read further if you have not yet seen the film and prefer to not have any knowledge of its plot twists.

On the surface, the character Jørgen, the “father” of the bride, comes across (at least to some viewers) as a sympathetic character. After all, he took good care of his family; he gave much money to charity; he (perhaps) underwent a positive transformation of character when he was confronted with the reality of his own death. Personally, I have a quite different view of the character Jørgen. And that is what I will comment about in this posting.

Jørgen knows what it feels like to be a predator because he has been one his entire life. He visualizes himself as a fox, running down the trails surveying his territory, lurking in the camouflage watching potential prey, sizing them up for weaknesses and vulnerabilities, preparing for the kill when the time is right. His predatory behavior has allowed him to collect many trophies of all sorts. We see the heads of some of his trophies lining the walls of his home. He has become rich beyond imagination because of the predatory way he ran his business. We hear the minions in his company retell the “heroic myths” of his ruthless “kills” of competitors. Some of his trophies are not “kills”, but prey forced into submission. These include his trophy wife and trophy children. This does not mean that he does not “love”his wife and children, simply that they remain under his total control rather than being allowed to decide for themselves how to live their lives. Jørgen is the benevolent alpha male who always knows what is best for his trophy family and provides it (whether they want it or not).

However, Jørgen is confronting, for the first time, an adversary who will defeat him. He is facing death. Now he is starting to get a small taste of what it feels like to be the prey instead of the predator. His eyes are now starting to take on a look characteristic of a vulnerable prey, isolated from the herd and being circled by a pack of predators. The powerful self-image he carries in his mind of being a cunning fox is morphing into an image of a decomposing body of a fox surrounded by decay.

But Jørgen is not one to give up easily. He has a plan that will allow him to maintain a controlling grip of influence beyond death. Perhaps his path to immortality of sorts. His body might have to succumb to death, but that does not necessarily mean he has to let go of his prize trophy family. He can perhaps keep them under his control. But this plan will require one final “kill”. And he will need to put his huge arsenal of predator skills to work if he is going to carry out this last “kill” successfully.

I have some advice for the character Jacob, the “other” father of the bride. Run like hell! When you are summoned back to Denmark from the orphanage in India where you work, and where you have established a good life, beware. When you arrive in Denmark and are asked by Jørgen if you want a drink and you say no, and in the next scene we see you having a drink, we know you are being sized up for weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Later when you are asked by Jørgen if you want to have lunch, and you say no, and in the next scene you are having lunch, we know the predator is circling closer and getting ready for the kill. Please, for your sake, and for the sake of all of those enslaved trophies, and for the sake of all that is good in the world, do not sell your soul for a few measly dollars. The “good” that will result is perverse. You will regret it the rest of your life.

But alas, a good tragedy has to run its (tragic) course.

I thought After the Wedding had the potential to be a 5 star movie, but it veered too dangerously close to degenerating into a sentimental soap opera a few too many times. Nevertheless, a film I highly recommend, and I gave it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars

Ron Boothe

psyrgb@emory.edu

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About Ron Boothe

I am a retired professor of psychology living in Tacoma Washington USA.
This entry was posted in 2004 - 2007, Discussion of Non-Selected Films, General Film Related Discussion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to After the Wedding – The Predator Makes One Last Kill

  1. marlowe44 says:

    Ron:

    Some excellent introspection and thought went into this piece. Jorgen as the alpha male CEO type-A personality asshole, yes; and perhaps this included hunting. But then perhaps he never hunted at all. Perhaps he bought those animal head trophies that hung on his den walls. Or maybe the former inhabitant of the house had been the hunter, and Jorgen just left them there because it gave him a false rush of testestorone.

    There are no real sympathetic characters in this story. Jacob had been a scoundrel in his youth, a drunk, a druggie, a womanizer, and he ran away all the distance to the strangeness of India before he began to care about someone beyond himself. And, hell, psychologically, when someone turns into a philanthropist after being a wastrel, it is usually for their own selfish reasons, right? To salve their own guilt, to calm their own demons. And as Jorgen pointed out very clearly, Jacob, whatever his motives, was only an initiator. Every project he became involved in ended in failure to some degree. He did not have the “stuff” to do whatever it takes to sustain life in his “projects”. His orphanage in India was just another example of this. Yes, Jorgen was the epitomy of selfishness and need for control when he hatched the plot that he sucked Jacob into, and his family, and his cooperation. You say Jacob sold his “soul” for “a few dollars”. Well, it is the old Faustus complex isn’t it? 12 million dollars is not a “few”. Jacob was forced, whatever the motivation on Jorgen’s part, to make a difficult decision; as to whether or not he really wanted to help the orphans of India, or did he just want to help a few dozen of them for a short time longer. When it comes to packaging the deal, or marketing one’s self as an artist, writer, dancer, there comes a time when you have to go to the Money Boys, and lay open your soul, and let them make their rules and demands; twisting and slobbering on your creativity, changing things, distorting things; and so what emerges is a mere shadow of the original concept or process or person. So what? Some part of your intention sees the light of day. Opportunity knocks only occasionally, and if you get “touchy” about your own sense of priorities –it will slam that door in your face and you will slide down that coal chute of your own making, and have to stew in your own coal dust for a time.

    Was Jorgen’s wife just a trophy? I doubt it. She seemed spirited, wily, somewhat creative, willful; not some twit, some poor manipulated thing. Why did Jorgen tell his daughter that she was only his stepdaughter on her 18th birthday? Because he loved her, and she deserved to know the truth. How much did the wife have to do with this process? You say that you actually admit that Jorgen “loved” his wife, his twins, and his stepdaughter –and yet you imply his need for “total control” counteracts and belies his love. Wealthy and successful, or just a mechanic or truck driver, I have met many Jorgen clones who treat their family in a similar manner. I have always wondered how actors like Henry Fonda and bing Crosby who could convey such tenderness and sensitivity in their movie roles as fathers, have been such miserable fathers to their own children? Perhaps life is complicated. Maybe Jorgen, although not wholly sympathetic, still is worthy of some of our empathy and tears as he does face his own mortality.

    I love the symbolism of the dead fox, that fleeting image in the beginning of the film. Although, unlike yourself, I am not so sure what the symbolism refers to. A fox is not a scary predator. A wolf, coyote, or lynx would have made a sharper simile. Capitalists are ruthless creatures, and yes some of them are predators, but is it not possible that Jorgen was just a very talented businessman, an innovator, or just damned lucky. Some people just have the Midas touch. Most of us don’t, of course, and this leaves us with envy and confusion.

    So for me, the ending was perfection. Jacob had to grow up, to have some closure, to accept the responsibility of caring for the daughter he never realized he had, and he had the pleasure of seeing his organization become a successful charity caring for thousands of orphans; and he got the girl. What the hell more could a character or a man want? You suggest he made a deal with the devil. I think he made a deal with his own destiny, like Frost he came to fork in the road, and chose one; and that made all the difference.

    Glenn

  2. Ron Boothe says:

    Glenn,
    I thought I would probably provoke a reaction from you with this commentary. 🙂

    All I can say in response is to relay the anecdote attributed (I think) to George Bernard Shaw. He asked a woman if she would be willing to “sleep” with him if he gave her a million dollars. She responded “yes”. Then he asked if she would be willing “to do it for one hundred dollars”. She responded, “What do you think I am?” He responded, “We have already established that. Now we are just haggling over the price.”

    Great discussion film!
    Ron

  3. Sharon Styer says:

    I lucked out and saw this movie before I heard anything about it. I just got back in town and feeling jet lagged, decided to watch the silent film about the monks over at The Grand. Alas, that movie had just moved on but I could be a few minutes late for After the Wedding. I missed the fox image, I missed Jacob reading the letter about funding and needing to make the trip to Denmark. All rather important things.

    Jorgen was indeed a grand manipulator. I believe he knew where and what Jacob was up to for a very long time and kept his eye on him till he needed him.
    Jorgen seemed a man of extremes: cold and accurate skilled in “doing the deed” – the kill that is required to succeed and also the fun-loving, compassionate, personal family man. Not only were there way too many close-up shots of EYES but there were many shots of a remarkably large herd of deer grazing peacefully on Jorgen’s lawn. Extremes.
    I did wonder about Jorgen’s skill in allowing Christian to be his daughter’s groom. He didn’t use his hunter’s eye on that boy.
    And unearthing Jacob for Helene………hmmmm. Not feeling that’s so brillant either. Jacob had made small changes, he managed a fledgling orphanage and watched over an orphaned boy for eight years. Good, but not major commitment to another person. Helene has been loved and petted in comfort and commitment for over twenty years.
    I think Jorgen could have looked around a found a more suitable match. Also, Jacob never looked for Helene and she would have been easy to find.

    One thought on Jacob: He did walked away from the deal. He left the building leaving the papers on the table. True, when Jorgen came running in tears, in truth that he’s dying, that’s the moment for a new deal: Yep I’ll take your money and keep tabs on your family…..but I also get to spend time in India. I mean, the truth was finally on the table right then he had bargaining power.
    But Jacob did not have a decisive personality. He set himself up for pain when at the end of the movie he asked the boy if he wanted to leave India rather than invite him to Denmark for a visit and allow the boy a true choice.

    Helene, I know the type. She’s rich. She has a staff of people taking care of everything. She can stand aside the day before her daughter’s wedding and watch her assistant freak out from the stress. Helene probably just arrived home from a day at the spa…which is how she prepares for her daughter’s wedding. I mean, that’s a good life. The only problem is that she didn’t ask questions, didn’t get involved with what Jorgen was up to in his working life. She was part of his safe haven…the side of him where deer roamed free.
    Helene will more than likely marry another man like Jorgen, one who takes charge and let’s her continue her easy dream.
    Anna could be the one who really grows now that she’s a straight talking adult with a failed marriage and co-director of a large sum of money. She’ll be interesting.

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