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A War (2015)
9/10
Dramatic film-making at some of its best
28 January 2016
Krigen (A War)

Krigen centres around Commander Klaus Michael Petersen as he serves in Afghanistan. At the same time as this his wife (Maria) and children are followed as she deals with the struggles of being a single parent as your other half is risking his life to preserve the peace thousands of miles away.

Having some time to reflect has lead me to conclude that this is one of the best and truest dramas I have seen in a long time.

A lot of this is down to the writing, Tobias Lindholm for me is one of the best dramatic writers working at the minute. It just feels so real and genuine, and the normalcy makes the situations where it's really dramatic have even more of an impact. Lindholm's directing also lends itself to this 'realism' as a lot of it is done with handhelds instead of steady cams. The performances are fantastic across the board, however I can't really point anyone out in particular, not in a negative way but more, again because of the writing. No actor gets this meaty, grandiose dialogue because in real life nobody does that, it just all feels real.

There are moments when you really feel the emotions going through the characters. Very early on - and this isn't really a spoiler - but there's a death in the regiment and one of the departed's squad mates is struggling to come to terms with this and their involvement in Afghanistan as a whole. This leads on to another point I was pleasantly surprised with, to do with the plot. There's been a lot of talk in recent years about how we're not being told about misconducts in the Afghanistan and soldiers are the bad guys but this, it never strays into that, rather depicts decisions made in the moment - decisions that none of us wouldn't do ourselves. To me anyway, I found how that was told strangely refreshing.

Also something I want to touch on is the sound, or lack of it in this case. There is very little background score which is really effective when it comes to drama and I wish more filmmakers would do this.

I'm not lying when I say that I'm struggling to find anything bad to say about this film, possibly the switching back and forth between Claus and his family may be slightly jarring for some, taking you out of it a bit, but I really don't know how that could have been fixed without taking that early character building stuff with Maria and co. out, something I'm really glad they didn't.

Looking this up on IMDb I saw that Tobias Lindolm was also the man responsible for one of my favourite foreign films 'The Hunt', which really didn't surprise me as that also was also really effective in telling a down-to-earth story. Danish cinema feels like something of a hidden gem as not a lot talk about it, yet the standard of filmmaking is so good! I don't really know if I think this is better as 'The Hunt' got me really emotional which this didn't as much, but anyway if I had to give it a score I'd say a solid 9 Danish Pastries out of 10.
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