Company commander Claus M. Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) and his men are stationed in an Afghan province. Meanwhile back in Denmark Claus' wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) is trying to hold everyday life together with a husband at war and three children missing their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences for him - and his family back home. Written by
Nordisk Film Production A/S
A War is not just about one war in Afghanistan; it is also about a war at home in two parts. So I guess that makes three. Anyhow, director Tobias Lindholm, who scored big with his docudrama A High Jacking, repeats the illusion of reality while presenting a fully-metaphoric tale about a commander caught between saving a man under fire and endangering civilians, in this case causing the deaths of 11 Afghans.
As Lindholm depicted the tension aboard the hijacked tanker, in Afghanistan the tension is even more pronounced as bullets and mines abound with death even nearer than aboard the ship. Company Commander Pederson (Pilou Asbaek) is a decent man, whose second war is his attempt to be a father to children who have seen too little of him. Young Julius starts his own wars at school and Pederson's wife has a challenge keeping order, much less worrying about her husband in clear and present danger.
The third war, and the center of the film's drama, is his court marshal for violating International humanitarian law by murdering civilians. That he did not have PID (identification of enemy in the target) is the charge. Although it appears to be scant evidence he had PID, the director continues to show the confusion of fighting an enemy in the field and at home.
What makes this an Oscar-nominated Danish film is the non-manipulative narration, the lack of screaming at home, and the first-rate acting and directing. While the story strives to tell a linear morality tale, it ends up telling a story of not-so-clear motives and circumstances, whereby a good everyman faces implacable forces on the world stage and at home.
Although A War did not beat Son of Saul for the best foreign film of 2015, it will resonate with practically all the human race cornered by the conflicts in the Middle East.
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