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War, A


Stars: Pilou Asbaek, Tuva Novotny, Dar Salim, Charlotte Munck, Soren Malling

Director: Tobias Lindholm

Despite a visceral start, when a soldier has his legs blown off by an unexploded incendiary device, this film's mind is not really on making a film about the horrors of war endured by a Danish platoon battling a largely unseen Taliban enemy in Afghanistan, but rather on the moral dilemmas facing the troops, and pressures of a different kind facing their women back home.

So, after encountering platoon leader Claus (Asbaek, Euron from TV's Game of Thrones) and his men, we soon segue off into the waiting world of his wife (Novotny) trying to deal with the stress of possible widowhood, as well as bringing up three children, including a dreadful, disobedient son who won't even go to school unless dragged bodily out of the family car.

Claus, who insists on going out on patrol at the head of his men, in spite of the combat fatigue it brings, and against the advice of his closest friend (Salim), makes his first mistake when he refuses to house for the night a family whom he and his troops had helped, supplying them with water and tending the daughter's burnt arm - in spite of the father's insistence that the Taliban will kill them in the night.

The following day, under fire and with a man badly wounded, Claus orders the demolition of a possible enemy position, which turns out to contain civilians. He is taken back to Denmark to stand trial, and faces relentless questioning from a smugly clever prosecutor (Munck) who is determined to nail him.

It's strange that, in a film that centres on men (and one whose potential suspense is often broken up by switching from country to country), the two best performances should both come from women - Novotny, poignant to a heartbreaking degree as the wife, and Munck, so confidently superior you want to slap her, as the prosecutor. Action sequences, although uncompromising, are largely routine.

David Quinlan

Denmark/Spain/Turkey/Jordan 2015. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour by Nordisk Film.
111 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 04 Jan 2016