A War ★★★★

“The issue is not what you have done, but what you do now…”

A War sees writer-director Tobias Lindholm reunite with Pilou Asbæk, Soren Malling and Dar Salim, stars of his previous film A Hijacking, to deliver yet another powerful and arresting, handheld-shot drama that was Denmark's entry for best foreign language film at the 2015 Oscars.

Essentially this is a story of two narratives and two halves; Asbæk’s company commander Claus Michael Pedersen leading his troop in Afghanistan, and his wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) struggling to hold their family of three young children together at home in Denmark. When a decision under enemy fire leads to dire consequences, Klaus is recalled home to face an altogether different kind of battle - one that occurs in the courtroom for both his professional reputation and his freedom.

With cinematographer Magnus Nordenhof Jønck also returning to the fold, what we have with this and the previous A Hijacking is a distinctive and commendable signature in Danish filmmaking; a sort of faux documentary, utterly naturalistic style of storytelling that enhances the inherent tension and provokes much thought regarding the morally grey areas Lindholm's script takes us to. This is mature and intelligent entertainment that seeks to depict what is, I imagine to some, the lesser known role Denmark has played in the Afghan War as opposed to yet another American or British take on the proceedings (yes, other countries were engaged in the conflict!) and avoids the bangs and whistles of Hollywood to offer up a strong, slow burning procedural in the Afghan scenes that put me a little in mind of Alan Clarke's Contact (albeit far more talky!). Indeed, this is so far removed from those usual bangs and whistles that I cannot imagine a US or even a UK film production exploring the same themes of guilt and accountability in quite the same way as A War does.

It was my 37th birthday a week ago today, and this was one of the DVD's I received for it which I've only just got around to watching. Let me tell you, it killed me to amend my profile here from 'mid thirties' to 'late thirties'

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