Directed by Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm, A War begins with company commander Claus M. Pedersen, played by Pilou Asbæk, and his men are stationed in an Afghan province. Meanwhile back in Denmark, Claus’ wife Maria, played by Tuva Novotny is trying to hold everyday life together with a husband at war and three children missing their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in a heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences for him and his family back home.
Asbæk as Claus is believable and visceral. The commander is an experienced, knowledgeable and admired Danish army officer in charge of a company stationed in a rocky, distant wasteland in Afghanistan. Claus’ orders are to keep the village safe from Taliban attack. The mundane and tedious patrols are edged with the potential for dangerous combats, which places Claus’ company in harm’s way.
Several firefights ensue. Lindholm films them as a vortex with spinning in combat. Such harrowing intensity, I found it worse than the usual blood and guts of other war movies.
One of his men is killed. That is a major turning point in the movie where Claus resolves to forsake his safe commander’s tent and lead the patrols himself.
I rather not go into full details on what happens next in the movie because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I want you to enjoy the movie and see how it all plays out to the end. I will say, what happens to Claus and his family is heart wrenching. War is a terrible commodity that we should never have to endure. You would think the powers that be would have figured that out by now. Today, there is no need for war.
With that, the movie is great, and rightly so. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Movie, Son of Saul won, but the movie is so good. I am surprised it didn’t win.
Lindholm reaches the audience with realism. He once again employs those who have been closest to the conflict. In A War, he uses Danish soldiers and Taliban warriors, relatives, and refugees, as he strives towards realism.
A Hijacking is another film by Lindholm, also starring Asbæk, that won quite a few awards, winning a Critics’ Award (Bodil) for Best Danish Film as well as five Danish Academy Awards. He is definitely a filmmaker to watch. I recommend A War.