A War film review: An ambiguous, but triumphant, Danish drama

 
James Luxford

15 | Dir. Tobias Lindholm

★★★★☆

The many grey areas of modern warfare are examined in this Danish drama, shortlisted for Best Foreign Language film at this year’s Oscars.

We follow Commander Claus Pedersen, stationed in Helmand Province, as well as his wife and children carrying on with life back in Denmark.

The future of Claus and his loved ones are thrown into jeopardy when he makes an reckless decision to save his troops.

Director Tobias Lindholm’s shaky, documentary-style filmmaking isn’t the only reason the story is deeply involving.

It’s an exploration of no-win situations, where good intentions are not enough, and good men such as Claus (played by Lindholm’s regular lead Pilou Asbaek) can still find themselves in bad situations.

Equal credence is given to his wife’s struggles, with the real heartbreak coming from actress Tuva Novotny’s determination to carry on despite the absence of her partner, rather than break down dramatically, as a lot of lesser war dramas would have her do.

It’s an emotionally testing journey, particularly in the latter half when the disarmingly relatable Asbaek is made to answer for his actions.

The lack of any clear cut answer makes A War a frustrating film to walk away from, but one that examines human nature so adeptly you can’t help but feel like you’ve spent two hours on the front line.

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