A War (2015)
Danish Drama A War (Krigen) was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign film and praised for asking big ethical questions: “What’s right and wrong in a war zone?” “What makes a good soldier, following due process or protecting your men?” A War investigates these ethical dilemmas in a sober, balanced way, leaving enough room for the audience to question their moral stances, even though the film clearly focuses on the personal story of its main character, Claus Pedersen.
Claus, played by the Danish Michael Shannon, Pilou Asbæk, is a company commander stationed in Afghanistan, who is trying to do the right thing in a constant life or death situation. Meanwhile, his wife (Tuva Novotny) is trying to navigate her own conflict zone: raising three children by herself. The two very different dramas unfolding are in stark contrast with each other, but complete the picture of “good” people trying to do the right thing in impossible situations.
The narration of these very different dilemmas is well done, but where the movie truly shines is the acting. Each character, even the smallest bit part, feels so natural and realistic, it may as well be a documentary. Scandinavian cinema is best when it focuses on ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and A War is no exception.