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A War / Krigen

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Danish Director and Screenwriter Tobias Lindholm premieres with the Oscar-qualifying film A War.

The film is about Claus Pedersen, played by Pilou Asbæk, a soldier who is stationed as a commander in Afghanistan. Back in Denmark he has a wife Maria, played by Tuva Novotny, and three children. Both he and his wife are battling two different wars. He is dealing with the war in Afghanistan and she is dealing with family war at home, alone with three children. They both struggle to get through the day. One day, when Claus is on his regular duty patrol in Afghanistan everything changes. He needs to make a hard decision, a decision that has consequences for him, his fellow soldiers and his family. He is sent home from Afghanistan before his duration ends and he needs to sit for a war tribunal.

A War is a film that deals with current war-issues and dilemmas. There has been a number of films dealing with post traumatic stress after returning home from war, for instance Susanne Biers Brothers. A War deals with the choices you make during war that interferes with the real law. There is no war-law called “desperate times call for desperate measures” during war. Killing is killing. It’s an interesting topic to bring up for a debate. Of course, law is law, but can the prosecutor even imagine what the accused has been through? In war, it can be hard to distinguish between the enemy and the helpers. Sometimes, you can be in doubt whether you and your country are the real helpers or enemies.

Lindholm portrays the soldiers in a truthful and fascinating way. They talk in a special ‘soldier way, make small jokes along the patrols, smoke and gamble when they are bored. It is obvious that he is not trying to glorify the soldiers, but he is trying to create a truthful portrait of them. That works because it’s important to know that they are human beings. Lindholm did the same when he wrote 9th of April.

The films is a bit slow at times which can provoke an audience if you expect it to be a hardcore war-film. But it works to see that there is a lot of waiting, relaxing and planning and it is not always a constant battlefield, when you are at war. What is truly captivating about the film is the two parallel stories between Claus in Afghanistan and his family at home. They are so different, yet similar in its expression. It shows the effect on a family with a father and husband at war, but also how they have their own war going on at home. The war can be everywhere and in different sizes.

The film is intriguing and well written. Unfortunately, it can be a bit monotonous at times. Aspects of the morality have been elaborated too much. It is also a beautiful film with great actors, a crucial theme and a relevant morality. It would, however, have been more suitable if the film was shorter.