Debuting at the AFI Film Festival in November and then scoring an Oscar nomination as Denmark's entry for Best Foreign Language Film, director/writer Susanne Bier re-teams with writer Anders Thomas Jensen to bring us After The Wedding , a follow-up to her well-received, Sundance-winning drama Brothers .

Powered by her now patented brand of visual excellence, Bier tells the story of Jacob, a Danish ex-patriot, who runs an orphanage in Bombay, India where he has developed a special fondness for a little boy, Pramod. With no money to continue his good works either with the orphanage or Pramod, Jacob is forced to return back home to try and secure funds to keep the orphanage open.

Once home, he meets the well-to-do and bankrolled Jorgen, who is keen to make a healthy investment to Jacob and his good works. Although Jorgen seems disinterested in Jacob's endeavors, he's still willing to invest and invites Jacob to his daughter's wedding the following day.

Secrets and lies bubble to the surface as the festivities begin, particularly when Jacob meets Jorgen's wife, Helena, supposedly for the first time. Surprise! At the wedding, Jacob discovers that Helena is a former flame whom he left some 20 years ago in India. As is to be expected in a Bier film, things aren't quite what they seem and a potentially destructive clarity rings true during a toast by the bride at her own wedding.

From its stunning visuals to rich performances – Mads Mikkelsen as the beleaguered Jacob and Rolf Lassgard's pompous turn as Jorgen – the film is both sensitive and powerful. Character driven Mikkelsen, Denmark's brightest star, is flawlessly resolute as Jacob with an almost Pacino-esque quality. Having recently done battle with James Bond in Casino Royale , Mikkelson bears not only a striking resemblance to Viggo Mortensen physically, but also in his intensity and charismatic appeal. As Helena, Sidse Babett Knudsen brings a tangible reality to the project, adding to the suspense and melodrama of the story.

In what is undoubtedly the best work from Bier and Jensen to date, the script is tightly written and emotionally impactful. Thriving on thematic paranoia with almost Biblical undertones, Bier and Jensen masterfully manipulate their characters and the audience with slick shrewdness.

Bier makes every shot count with innovative twists and turns that parallel the script itself. Complimenting her vision is the editing of Pernille Bech Christensen and Morton Hojbjerg.

Perhaps the one downfall of the film, however, is the endless plot developments that are so extensive as to lose some of the emotional connection with the characters by film's end.

Building momentum from start to finish, the story scratches deep below the surface of the characters and their relationships, forging an unseen strength that translates to the audience. Reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman in its substantive style, After The Wedding provides a focused perspective of life.

Grade: A-