Sec­ond rate

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARABRADY


Di­rected by Su­sanne Bier. Star­ring Nikolaj Coster-Wal­dau, Ul­rich Thom­sen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Maria Bon­nevie . Club, IFI, Dublin, 105 min Po­lice de­tec­tive An­dreas ( Game of Throne’s Nikolaj Coster-Wal­dau) en­joys life with his wife (Maria Bon­nevie) and new­born son in a house that may have been pre­vi­ously used in an Ikea com­mer­cial. The late nights and post-natal mood swings can make the mis­sus snappy, but baby Alexander can be soothed with a late-night car ride. Across town, mean­while, vi­o­lent heroin-ped­dling thug Tris­tan (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his girl­friend Sanne (Lykke May An­der­sen) also have a baby boy, So­fus, who is the same age as Alexander.

When An­dreas and his part­ner Simon (Ul­rich Thom­sen) ar­rest Tris­tan, they dis­cover So­fus in a cup­board, cry­ing and cov­ered in ex­cre­ment. De­spite An­dreas’s protes­ta­tions there is in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence of abuse, and so­cial ser­vices are un­will­ing to re­move the child. Then, in a dis­com­bob­u­lat­ing melo­dra­matic twist, Alexander

dies in his sleep, prompt­ing An­dreas to break in and swap the ne­glected in­fant for the corpse of his own.

A schematic nar­ra­tive pep­pered with moral quan­daries – as penned by regular Bier-col­lab­o­ra­tor An­ders Thomas Jensen ( In a Bet­ter

World, An­tichrist) – en­sues. It’s soapishly in­volv­ing and hand­somely mounted thanks to Bier and cine­matog­ra­pher Michael Keith Sny­man.

The ac­tion is bril­liantly re­alised through five big per­for­mances: Coster-Wal­dau and May An­der­sen are par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive. But even qual­ity emot­ing and solid di­rec­tion can­not per­suade us that A Sec­ond Chance is any­thing other than lu­di­crous.

Why does no­body ex­cept So­fus’s mother re­alise her baby has been taken? How is it that ev­ery­one in this one-horse town is so good-look­ing? Do smack ad­dict’s molls re­ally look like for­mer swim­suit model An­der­sen? And if she isn’t a user, how did she end up with such an ir­re­deemable scum­bag?

The film splut­ters out its big re­veal, a plot twist that ex­plodes any ear­lier, ap­par­ently ac­ci­den­tal, sub­tlety.

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