I'm not exactly sure how to convince anyone to see a Danish film about a teacher accused of sexual impropriety and how that accusation changes his life. It's a tremendous film that makes you constantly think, and, as the person in front of me did, let out a huge sigh of relief when the film was over. You don't realize how much you've been holding your breath until the film actually ends.
Mads Mikkelsen (the bad guy in Casino Royale) plays the teacher in question. When we first see him he's jumping in an ice-cold pond to help a friend out in a variation of a polar bear club. This group of guys have apparently been hanging out for a long time. And that's what the film focuses on - friendships and trust.
As we can all imagine, once an accusation of an adult touching a child makes an appearance, there's no getting away from it. Innocent or not, that stigma stays with you forever. But if you're innocent, what proof do you really have? And who stands by your side in times like this? These are the questions the film asks.
Because the stakes are so high, and there are no real bad guys, everything that plays out is given equal importance. Whether it's a girl asking to walk a dog, or a son casually flirting while buying groceries, each scene is supercharged with tension, because you keep waiting for something else bad to happen.
The acting is uniformly fantastic. The characters are given depth and weight, making you see what everyone is thinking and why. It's a full-on dramatic film that plays out like a thriller. And the ending is truthful, sad, frightening and accurate all at once.
This is not the sort of movie you're watching while eating junk food.
It's one you watch with other people, so you can all be melancholy
together and talk about the movie afterwards. And because of that, it's hard to sell. I'm not even sure if any of what I wrote is convincing enough to see the film. It may not be a "good" time at the movies, but I was captivated, entertained and moved. Sometimes I want those feelings, too.