VOD film review: A Second Chance
Ivan Radford | On 10, Aug 2015
Director: Susanne Bier
Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Ulrich Thomsen, Maria Bonnevie
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When it comes to getting natural performances out of actors, Susanne Bier is one of the best directors in the business. A Second Chance is no exception.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau stars as married cop Andreas, who recently became a father. When he raids the flat of junkie low-life Tristan, also a new dad, the contrast couldn’t be clearer: where Andreas’ child, Alexander, is happy in the arms of his wife, Anne (Bonnevie), Tristan’s son, Sofus, is lying on the bathroom floor, crying and covered in poo.
Andreas’ sense of justice soon sees him planning to remove the child from their custody – but Bier doesn’t stop there. It would be all too easy to think of these two pairs as opposites, but Anders Thomas Jensen’s script blurs the parallels between them, as each couple comes face to face with the prospect of losing their baby. Would it ever be possible to replace a lost child with an adopted one? Is it right to take revenge if someone took your baby from you? And how far would you go to get it?
As the quartet react differently – or not – to their emotional and criminal dilemmas, Bier teases out engaging turns from each. Nikolaj Lie Kaas is hot-headed yet sympathetic as Tristan; May Andersen is devastating as his distraught partner, Sanne; and Maria Bonnevie puts your heart in your mouth several times as the increasingly unstable Anne. And at the heart of it all, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is fantastic as the conflicted cop, punching through glass windows while still lecturing his alcoholic friend, Simon, on the importance of reform.
The result is a moving morality tale dressed up as a Danish crime thriller; a simple tale told with all the complexity you expect from Bier and her cast. Halfway through, we gaze at Andreas and his littl’un curled up on the carpet. The boy yawns – the director can even get a natural performance out of a baby.