being an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, A War is the work of someone I greatly admire, Danish
writer-director Tobias Lindholm. If you saw A
Hijacking—a film that deserved the same level of attention as Captain Phillips—or any of the films
he’s co-written, like Submarino and
the searing Oscar nominee The Hunt,
you’ll understand my enthusiasm.
In A War he turns his attention to the
Danish presence in Afghanistan, focusing on a company commander (Pilou Asbæk,
the star of A Hijacking) who tries to
bring empathy and humanity to his job, especially when it comes to dealing with
his men. They are understandably scared and frustrated, and he is a superb
leader who sets an example for his tight-knit unit. Perhaps that’s because he’s
also a husband and father… but right now, his wife and children are suffering
because of his absence. His older son is acting out and his wife is doing her
best to keep their family on track.
doesn’t judge his characters: he leaves that to us, which is why this story is
told in such a straightforward manner. Despite its gripping scenes of action
and emotional stress, it follows a fairly simple through-line and doesn’t feel
the need to build to a spectacular climax. The filmmaker lays the groundwork
for us to have feelings for the soldiers, the Afghan natives, and the family
left behind at home.
The movie is
also a great showcase for handsome leading man Asbæk, who is playing Pontius
Pilate in the upcoming remake of Ben-Hur
and has just been signed to appear in the sixth season of Game of Thrones. By the time he becomes familiar to fans of that
show, A War will be just a credit on
his résumé. But it begs to be seen now, while it is playing in theaters.