Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original title: Haevnen
Denmark/Sweden, 2010. Danmarks Radio, Det Danske Filminstitut, Film Fyn, Film i Vast, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Memfis Film, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Sveriges Television, Swedish Film Institute, Trollhattan Film AB, Zentropa Entertainments, Zentropa International, Zentropa Productions. Story by Susanne Bier, Anders Thomas Jensen, Screenplay by Anders Thomas Jensen, Supervising writer Per Nielsen. Cinematography by Morten Soborg. Produced by Sisse Graum Jorgensen. Music by Johan Soderqvist. Production Design by Peter Grant. Costume Design by Manon Rasmussen. Film Editing by Pernille Bech Christensen, Morten Egholm. Academy Awards 2010. European Film Awards 2011. Golden Globe Awards 2010. Toronto International Film Festival 2010.
Director Susanne Bier’s penchant for soap opera pays off with this riveting, satisfying drama. Two boys become best friends when newly arrived Kristian feels sympathy for Swedish import Elias, who is constantly being picked on by bullies at their school in their small Danish town. Kristian has recently lost his mother, and the anger he feels for his father has pushed him towards a very staunch belief in black-or-white morality: those who oppress him in any way are met with high-intensity violent expressions that never have the clean outcomes that his indignation anticipates. Meanwhile, Elias’ father works overseas in Africa as a doctor, and his involvement in the local politics there sees him putting his own ideas of turning the other cheek, which he is trying to instill in the children, to the ultimate test. The film’s allegories and binary narrative structures are painfully obvious, but its method, while transparent, is also elegantly performed, never sentimental and so rippingly honest that you cannot help but be thoroughly sucked in by the entire enterprise. The performances are all outstanding.