A SECOND CHANCE/ EN CHANCE TIL ★★★
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.