Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Maria Bonnevie, Thomas Bo Larson, Mary Andersen.
Running Time: 101 minutes
Synopsis: After the death of his baby, conflicted cop Andreas (Coster-Waldau), decides to swap the body with that of the neglected and mistreated baby of a perp he has previously arrested.
There are few duos in cinema as powerful and consistent as director Susanne Bier and writer Anders Thomas Jensen. Their films reak of shocking and socially important issues, while giving us strong stories that seem unrivalled by others in the medium. BROTHERS, AFTER THE WEDDING, and IN A BETTER WORLD are just some of the classics that make the world a better place to live in. There’s no doubt that Susanne Bier is quite possibly the greatest female director to have ever lived, but such a title should come second to the fact she is actually one of the ten greatest directors to have ever lived.
The less you know about A SECOND CHANCE, the better. But even with knowledge of the main plot, there are still plenty of surprises in store. These surprises aren’t forced or done to merely shock you into liking the brave script; they are understandable progressions. From the very opening we are introduced to a difficult set-up. Police discover a baby covered in its own feces, but there is little they can do when the suspected junkie parents are reported as being clean. It’s a hard hitting sequence that seems all too real, and has an unnerving sense of naturalness to it.
Once the switching of children happens, we are faced with our own moral dilemma of whether the actions are right or not. My favourite thing about film is how it can offer unbiased views of difficult and impossible choices. At first Andreas is shown as some kind of hero, but his decisions seem rushed and soon have us questioning our own moral compass. Although characters often pass judgement on each other, Bier’s handling of Andersen’s delicate script make for an incredibly fair portrayal. The music doesn’t sway us one way or the other, and all characters have room to breathe and develop.
The cast itself is a powerhouse of scandinavian talent. Game Of Throne’s Coster-Waldau, manages to make you forget how damn attractive and leading man worthy he is with a subtle performance of great emotional range. Maria Bonnevie captures the tragic essence of a mother on the edge, while Ulrich Thomsen lends excellent support as Coster-Waldau’s partner. It is Nikolaj Lie Kaas who steals every scene he happens to grace, however. It’s amazing such an easy to hate antagonist can generate such sincerity and empathy in a role. His passionate explosions of dialogue always entrance, and we’re never sure from what angle he is coming from, which makes him even more unpredictable and intriguing
A SECOND CHANCE has the guts to stand out and not make things simple. It’s very rare to see such a tale avoid becoming overblown or self-indulgent, but these are two things that Bier never flirts with. Once again we are offered a brave slice-of-life outside our own comfort zones that uses powerful drama as a catalyst for discussion and consideration. The kind of film that can be reflected upon in order to inspire discussion regarding our own social norms. Rich, dark, and challening, this is an essential viewing experience. Film isn’t just entertainment, it is a strong force that can invade the mind and make synaptic connections you never knew could take place, and Bier is at the front-line of film-makers pushing cinema to its fullest potential.
[usr=5]A SECOND CHANCE is released in cinemas today.