Indie Film Review “A War”

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First, the Recap:

First, it’s routine patrol, following the man in front of you. Next, it is an explosion, it is chaos. Men scatter, taking up position, waiting, watching, bracing for further attack.  When it never comes, there is the aftermath, the cries for assistance, the blown off limbs, the blood, the desperation to save a fellow soldier while back at HQ, the base commander listens and laments a fallen comrade. CO Claus Michael Pedersen (Pilou Asbaek) has just heard this occur and feels the loss of a young man, a fellow warrior, a brother in arms. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, Claus’ wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) waits anxiously with their three children for the phone to ring after a trying day.

Wanting nothing more than to come home to his family, Pedersen makes the choice to begin joining his men on patrols in order to put them at ease as to why they are doing what they are in Afghanistan. But, when a routine mission to a local community compound goes severely wrong, Pedersen and his men find themselves in a heavy firefight that results in a decision under duress being made in order to get his men to safety. While the gamble is successful, little does Pedersen realize until afterwards that the choice he made had dire consequences which puts him in legal crosshairs.  Sent home to face the charges, it becomes a new war for him that threatens not only his freedom, but that of his family.

Next, my Mind:

Brought to life by “R” and “A Hijacking” writer/director Tobias Lindholm, this taut, sobering Danish take on the war against terror certainly matches any American-based effort and then some in its harsh depiction of not just the debilitating physical aspects of war, but the mental and soul-crushing elements and stresses it takes on both the soldiers and their families who wait for their loved ones to come home, ideally, alive and in one piece. Shot with the additionally formidable utilization of real Danish soldiers, relatives, and refugees to enforce the realism of the narrative, the cinematography accompanies these characters through the merciless wastelands and maze-like compounds where danger could lurk around every corner, to the cold starkness of a courtroom, to the disquieted household of an absent husband.

Lindholm staple Asbaek continues his solid run in playing Claus, a duty-driven man who only wants what’s best for his men, namely their safety, and the accomplishment of duties they’ve all sworn to uphold. Yet, he is also a man who longs to be home, has seen too much while in country, and ultimately makes choices that put everything he holds dear at risk. Novotny also stands out as Claus’ long-suffering wife Maria, who desperately tries to maintain a sense of normalcy in keeping up with their three children who aren’t always the easiest to handle alone. Even Claus’ homecoming, initially joyous, is jeopardized by the realization of his circumstances, and the strain is well emoted by both actors.

Excellent supporting turns by the rest of this international cast make “A War”, with its fresh, hard-edged, and intimately intense drama, a film well worthy of the awards its garnered to date.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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