15A cert,ifi/light House, Dublin, 103 min

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - TARA BRADY

Di­rected by To­bias Lind­holm. Star­ring Soren Malling, Pilou As­baek, Gary Skjold­mose Porter Some months be­fore Tom Hanks faces up to con­tem­po­rary pi­rates in Paul Green­grass’s Cap­tain Phillips, To­bias Lind­holm – writer of the TV se­ries Bor­gen – of­fers up a pro­ce­dural take on the same sub­ject mat­ter in this hugely im­pres­sive Dan­ish fea­ture. It’s a cold piece; char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion is sketchy. But the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of de­tail and the au­then­tic bu­reau­cratic fug are bril­liantly main­tained.

Lind­holm di­vides the ac­tion be­tween a ship in the In­dian Ocean and the of­fices of the ves­sel’s com­pany in Copen­hagen. Main­tain­ing re­straint through­out, the film-mak­ers do not show us the takeover. We see the cap­tain talk­ing to his wife at home. Some time later, we re­turn to dis­cover the ves­sel over­run by So­mali pi­rates.

The black crew mem­bers are bun­dled into the lower decks – they are worth less, ap­par­ently – while an un­com­fort­able, twitchy re­la­tion­ship de­vel­ops be­tween the Eu­ro­peans and their cap­tors. The burly cook, played warmly by Pilou As­bæk, stands in for the au­di­ence.

Back in Den­mark, an English hostage ne­go­tia­tor has been called in to su­per­vise the ship­ping com­pany’s de­lib­er­a­tions. Gary Skjold­mose Porter was orig­i­nally an ad­viser on the film, and he is un­ques­tion­ably the real thing. You can’t fake the icy dis­pas­sion­ate man­ner that char­ac­terises pro­fes­sion­als in th­ese quasi-mil­i­tary fields. He urges the au­thor­i­ties to be­gin by of­fer­ing a frac­tion of the ask­ing price and to then set­tle down for a lengthy cri­sis. Weeks go by.

De­cent lib­eral au­di­ences will find things to worry about in the de­pic­tions of the So­mali vil­lains. One can­not, how­ever, fault Lind­holm’s com­mit­ment to messy au­then­tic­ity. It moves queasily to a quiet con­clu­sion and then deals a rapid, vi­cious blow to the throat. Highly rec­om­mended.


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