I know that ‘After The Wedding’ is an American adaptation of Susanne Bier’s film, and some people do ask – is there a need to Americanize these films? But I racked my brain and realized I have never seen the original, so in this particular case, and for purely selfish reasons, I welcome this. And anything with Juliane Moore and Michele Williams will catch my attention. And to start, they are both great here – when they are in a scene together, just the two of their characters in front of each other already creates so much tension – you really do feel you are in a showcase of two of the greatest actresses working today.
But what is it with Julianne Moore – her last film was also a remake (Gloria) and she even has almost an exact same scene her of her character singing along to a pop song while driving. But no mistake, though her Theresa here is a force, a woman who is driven to see thing as she plans, even as she rearranges people’s paths. Williams comes off the better here with her subdued passive performance, her Isabel is uprooted from an orphanage in India to the wild streets of New York City, only to be confronted by her past. I must say that I really appreciated the twists and turns here, as manipulated as they may have been. I got into these characters and their situations, and I ate up everything they were serving. I liked this movie a lot, and I enjoyed it, especially the performances. I don’t know if I would have liked it more or less if I had seen the original, but what this is really is just fine.
‘Glory,’ the fourth episode in Fosse/Verdon focuses on 1973, that grand year when Bob Fosse had the triple grand slam achievement of winning the Oscar, the Tony, and the Emmy all on the same year. (His Oscar win was an upset over Francis Ford Coppola, who was favored to win for ‘The Godfather’) But this episode paints him as some kind of tortured artist. We see him tortured about how ‘Cabaret’ is being received, we see him tortured about ‘Pippin,’ which is now in rehearsals – I loved the process of how they got to the Finale. And I guess he was probably also tortured about something in ‘Liza With A Z,’ though they only show the show in a monitor. I wish the show was more abotu the process – could you imagine if this was a Matthew Weiner show? We would have a whole episode on ‘Corner Of The Sky’ alone. But I get it, though. This isn’t the kind of show, and we do need to see the story move forward.
But what we have here is pretty engrossing. And whenever Michele Williams as Gwen comes on, I perk up. I love her intimate scenes with Joan Simon (who would die the same year from bone cancer) and I love the foreshadowing of Gwen seeing Ann Reinking in rehearsals, making a comment about her being so good she doesn’t need to bed Fosse to get a solo. But Fosse’s #metoo moments are really hard to watch in 2019 lens, although I am sure that happened all the time in 1973 and people did not wince.
Do we really need ‘Fosse/Verdon’ in our lives? Should this television series exist? We already have the film ‘All That Jazz’ and Fosse himself envisioned that film to be the representation of his legacy. But I knew I was going to watch this show anyway, and I will be excited about it, because I am a show queen, and this is what show queens live for.
And the first two episodes are certainly rewarding. On the first, we get to see intricacies in how Fosse shot ‘Hey Big Spender’ in the film version of ‘Sweet Charity.’ And on the second episode, we see how they got to create ‘Who’s Got The Pain’ from ‘Damn Yankees.’ And the one thing that is constant in those two scenes – Gwen Verdon. We get to see that she is just as responsible for Fosse’s artistry as he is. He has his own vision, of course, but she helped make it come to life.
And Michele Williams is fantastic as Gwen Verdon. For some reason, she nails her, without making it look like she is cartooning her. We get the essence of the woman so authentically I sometimes forget that this is a woman playing her character. I had to get used to Sam Rockwell as Fosse, though, and that’s probably because Roy Scheider’s performance in the film is so ingrained in my brain. By the second episode, I warmed up to Rockwell, and I am pretty sure as the series goes on, I will be on board.