Friday, June 10, 2016
I may sound like the typical ugly American here, but I was most fascinated by the film's Danishness. First of all, I had no idea that Denmark sent troops to Afghanistan. But they do, and the film begins with Danish soldiers on patrol. One of them is killed by an IED. Their commander, played by Pilou Asbæk, starts going on patrols himself to improve morale. When they get in a fire fight, one of his men is wounded, and he has air support called in. However, he can only do that if he is sure that the area being bombed has enemy soldiers in it.
This becomes the crux of the last act of the film, when he is put on trial for killing civilians. I found this part the most interesting. First of all, it makes for good courtroom drama, as there is evidence that damns Asbæk, but is ambiguous enough to create doubt. The viewer make take a side--I know I did, and I took his side, even though it was fairly clear to me that he was guilty--because that seemed to me to be the best use of justice. I was also interested to see how Danes have trials. The judges, at least the men, don't wear robes, they look like they are dressing for casual Friday. In fact, I don't think any man in the film ever wears a necktie. No wonder Denmark is often called the happiest country on Earth.
The first part of the film shows the soldiers interacting with an Afghan family, and then cross-cutting with Asbæk's wife (Tuva Novotny) dealing with the three children at home. This may be more interesting to Danes, who do not have a long history of war films. But for me, we've seen this film many times in the U.S.
I liked A War a lot but it was not better than Son of Saul or Mustang. I judge it a little better than Theeb. I have one more to go, Embrace the Serpent, which will be released on DVD shortly.