A Second Chance

"Good"

A Second Chance Review


From Denmark, this morally complex drama is urgent and provocative even if the story is full of lapses that make it feel oddly implausible. It's a reteaming of director Susanne Bier and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen, whose breakout 2004 film Brothers (remade in 2009 with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire) had similar problems: a high-concept premise that makes the dilemma more important than plot coherence.

Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau returns home to Denmark to star in the film. He plays Andreas, a detective who is horrified when he and his partner Simon (Ulrich Thomsen) find badly neglected infant Sofus in the home of lowlife ex-con Tristan (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his junkie girlfriend Sanne (Lykke May Anderson). But there's no legal way to remove the baby from his parents. This hits Andreas especially hard since his son Alexander is the same age and his wife Anna (Maria Bonnevie) is struggling emotionally with motherhood. Then Alexander dies unexpectedly and Andreas hatches a plan: he swaps the dead Alexander for the abused Sofus. Obviously both of the mothers notice this immediately, but Anna accepts it and no one will listen to Sanne's outcry. And Tristan is preoccupied with trying to cover up what he thinks is his son's death.

Bier and Jensen work diligently to set up this premise, with details that try to address each aspect of the story, but it simply never holds water. For example, we never believe that Andreas' action is something any caring husband would do, especially one who works for the police. Or that Anna and Simon would go along with it. So as the story becomes increasingly entangled, everything begins to feel like it's heading for the only conclusion possible. Thankfully, Bier and Jensen are skilled enough to make all of this compelling, challenging the audience to confront each decision the characters make and consider the moral repercussions of everything they do.

In addition, the actors are all skilled at adding realistic touches to their interaction, which helps them create people who at least feel honest even as they make various dodgy decisions. Coster-Waldau is especially strong in the meatiest role, while Anderson brings unexpected emotional resonance to Sanne. All of this helps highlight the social aspects of the story, as the two couples' financial statuses play into everything that happens. But as the drama shifts more into a thriller, these intriguing undercurrents fade into the background. In the end, the film may feel like a heavy-handed morality play, but at least it leaves us with plenty of issues to chew on.



A Second Chance

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 15th January 2015

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Sisse Graum Jorgensen

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