A Second Chance
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones) is Andreas, a detective with a wife and a young son, and a seemingly perfect life in this Danish thriller. His partner, Simon (Ulrich Thomsen) is divorced, drinking too much, and living a hard, messy life. From the outset if is easy to see the progression in their lives. Following up a report of domestic violence finds the pair investigating a junkie couple and their faeces and urine swaddled baby. Andreas, in particular, is horrified by what he witnesses, mostly as the young baby is roughly the same age as his son.
Following scenes from Andreas' life shows something may not quite be right, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then, in the middle of the night, Andreas is woken by the screams of his wife, Anna (Maria Bonnevie), as she tries to resuscitate their dead son. It is too late, and appears he has died from SIDS during the night. Anna is beyond bereft and refuses to let Andreas call an ambulance, as they will take her son away. Andreas pleads and tries to calm her, finally giving her some sedatives to calm her and eventually sleep.
And then the movie turns.
Andreas takes his dead son, he sits in the carpark of the hospital, deranged and confused, he calls Simon, his partner, but Simon is drunk and dismisses the call. Andreas then decides to do something so devastating, that you just cannot believe it. The consequences of these actions set the audience on a horrifying journey that goes from worse to worse, and with each horrifying action, another consequence arises. And just when you think there could surely be not more twists or turns, another attacks you. Bam!
I have never been in a theatre where the audience (and it was a large audience) was so quiet. Not a rattle of a chip packet, not a blow of the nose, not a breathe, not a movement.
I think we were all shell shocked.
It finally ends up being Simon, who pieces the puzzle together and works out what is going on with Andreas. By this stage, you are prepared for the absolute worst, but Simon helps Andreas out of his dilemma and in a role reversal, saves the day. This is not giving anything away, it would have been a relief to know this during the section I have intentionally not mentioned.
There is no denying this is a rough film to watch, horrifying, gut wrenching, almost unbelievable at times. Yet, because it is so well written, so incredibly well acted, you believe every single moment, and even understand the lengths that Andreas goes to to restore his life as he knew it. As someone who cries easily in film, I never shed a tear, this was a different kind of upset.
It is a film about good versus bad, blurred lines, and what people can do when forced into impossible situations. To recite the exact storyline is a little surreal, to watch it is another thing altogether.
Kaakkaa Muttai or The Crow's Egg
This was a great family film about two young brothers growing up in the slums of India. Their mother and grandmother are working hard to keep the family going while their Dad is in prison. He is also unwell, with TB, and there is a cost to keep him in medication. The boys are taken out of school and 'work' during the day, scrambling along the rail line trying to find pieces of coal which they get money for. This sounds like a depressing film, but whilst the family is undergoing hardship, there is love, beauty, and laughter. These kids are having the time of their life.
It's a perfect film to show children about other cultures, the differences and the similarities, without it being too dramatic of forceful.
The boys are excited to see a pizza place take shape in the better part of their neighbourhood, and are tempted by the promotion of this delicious looking food. But pizza is expensive and if they want this dream to come true, they will have to work extra hard to make more money. And so a funny and poignant journey begins for these two young scallywags. The film follows their days, the scrapes and adventures they get into, and the people the meet: poor, homeless, drunks, wealthy, kind, mean, all walks of life in this small community.
The film also showed us something I have never seen before, warnings that popped up on screen every time someone was smoking or drinking, explaining how alcohol and cigarettes were harmful. It was slightly distracting, seeing this watermark appear on the bottom left of the screen each time, but also very amusing.
It is shot with a perfect mix of pathos, drama, and humour. It opens your eyes to the disparages of wealth in these communities and the way the less wealthy financially live, but yet they seem more wealthy from a happy and cared for perspective. It is confronting in parts, but it also shows the traditions of different cultures and also how people are people, no matter what their circumstances are.
The boys finally make the money they need for pizza, and proudly turn up to partake in this seemingly amazing place, but things don't go according to plan. The story takes a turn, again, perfectly portrayed through drama and humour, and the ending isn't what you would expect at all.
The film shines through the two young actors portraying the brothers, their beautiful smiles makes you realise there is more to life than money and things, and that experiences, especially those shared, amount to a lot more happy than we realise.