Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards, A War tells the story of an Army commander, his family back home and the fallout from a crucial design he’s forced to make in the heat of battle.
Most Americans have forgotten that Denmark was one of the first nations to join the coalition that invaded Afghanistan after 9/11 and they’ve participated in the campaign with a few hundred troops for the duration.
The film offers a different perspective on the war, mostly because everyone speaks Danish and you’re required to read subtitles. The characters look a lot like Americans and the struggle to raise a family while dad is deployed in Afghanistan will look familiar to anyone who shares that experience.
A War is violent in ways that Hollywood war films won’t touch. We’ve got a clip from the beginning of the movie where one of the soldiers steps on an IED. Warning: the scene is incredibly bloody and the subtitles feature language translations appropriate to the situation but definitely NSFW.
The movie stars Pilou Asbæk as Claus Pedersen, the company commander whose battlefield decisions lead him back to a Danish courtroom. Asbæk gives a compelling performance and Hollywood has discovered him: he’s featured on the upcoming season of Game of Thrones and he plays Pontius Pilate in Mark Burnett’s big-budget remake of Ben-Hur that’s coming out later this year.
There’s a lot of compelling detail about life on the front, life for a family back home and the difficulties maintaining communication when a family member is deployed overseas. The film transitions into a courtroom drama that both finds a way to address difficult issues about civilian casualties and reveal that no one wears a tie to court in Denmark.
A War is now playing in New York and Los Angeles and will open across the country over the next few weeks. Check out a list of theaters and opening dates here.