A Second Chance
Directed by Susanne Bier
Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maria Bonnevie, Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Thomas Bo Larsen
Detectives and best friends Andreas and Simon lead vastly different lives; Andreas has settled down with his beautiful wife and son; while Simon, recently divorced, spends most of his waking hours getting drunk at the local strip club. But all that changes when the two of them are called out to a domestic dispute between a junkie couple, caught in a vicious cycle of violence and drugs. It all looks very routine – until Andreas finds the couple's infant son, crying in a closet. The usually collected policeman finds himself confronted with his own powerlessness and is shaken to his core. As Andreas slowly loses his grip on justice, it suddenly becomes up to the unruly Simon to restore the balance between right and wrong.
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★★★★½ review by joy-pix on Letterboxd
I went to see this partly because I have admired Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime in Game of Thrones, and partly because reveiws made it sound like a really good film. It is.
There are four main characters in this story: two sets of parents, each with a very young baby.
Andreas is a detective, and he and his wife Anna live a comfortable-looking life. Their new baby cries a lot, but don't they all? The proud and caring father takes turns with his frazzled wife to try and calm their son. He'll take tiny Alexander for a midnight ride in his car: she sometimes takes him for a night-time stroll in the buggy when he is fractious.
Meanwhile Andreas and his detective partner are called to the home of Klaus, a well-known violent and woman abusing criminal. His partner, long-suffering Sanne, also has a young baby boy, called Sofus. But as the couple are addicts who live in chaotic squalor, the child is neglected and left for hours in a dirty nappy. Andreas is aghast at the scene.
To relate what happens after that would be revealing many spoilers: but we are once again in "Nordic Noir" country. The script packs a mean punch to the heart. Suffice it to say that the remainder of the film is full of intense and harrowing emotion all round. This is faithfully presented by all four of the excellent main actors, well supported by the rest of the cast. The camera-work focusses effectively on details of their expressions: a gentle finger here, a tear-stricken cheek there, a loving glance, a horrified gaze or a howl of despair. Coster-Waldau is particularly moving as a tender and loving father figure, as well as a frustrated and conflicted cop.
I was so engrossed in this supremely well told and tragic story that I didn't notice if there was background music or not, and totally forgot I was reading sub-titles. (We are in Denmark.)
I would have given it five stars, but the half is off for what I felt was an unrealistic little scene at the end. Otherwise - a perfect piece of cinema.
★★★★½ review by Simon Lange on Letterboxd
Any of y'all who has seen a film by Susanne Bier? If not, I'd recommend you to do so. I personally believe she is the best working female director right now.
A Second Chance is about Andreas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a cop, who suddenly loses his baby. He then decides to switch his dead baby with a drug dealer (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his prostitute girlfriend's baby, and claims it was the right thing to do. The drug dealer then sets up a scene, when he suddenly bursts out in scream in a children's playground, yelling that his son has been abducted, and Andreas is set on the case, but that is not the only bad thing happening to him.
One of the most evil and brutal films of this century. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is believeable as Andreas, and so is his character's developement. Mainly it's the hard subjects of guilt, paranoia and inner pain that got me. Susanne Bier knows where to hit the audiences hardest.
I'd love to recommend this to everyone of you guys, but I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that, since it's such a hard watch. Susanne Bier is one of the reasons I'm proud to be a Dane.
★★★½ review by Metin Seven on Letterboxd
I'm an aficionado of the dynamic duo Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen. Together they're masters of emotions. A Second Chance is once again heavy, emotionally draining subject matter, dragging the viewer down into the quicksand along with the main characters.
The only thing that kept me from giving this particular Bier / Jensen production a soaring score is the emotional overkill, making the movie balance on the fine line between gripping drama and an ordinary tearjerker. Their other films felt more balanced and less predictable, which drew me more into those stories.
★★★½ review by Johannes Eich on Letterboxd
Der Film hat mich emotional brutal berührt. Erst war ich etwas verwirrt wegen Jamie Lennister aber man gewöhnt sich dran. Rohes, trauriges Skandinavien-Kino. Wenig warme Farben. Emotionale Härte und eine interessante Story.
★★★★ review by Dead Moon Night on Letterboxd
When it comes to drama films that feels in your entire body, Susanne Bier is a master (well not all of her movies, but many),. I was going to the theatre to watch her latest danish/swedish movie En Chance Til when it was released but then I totally forgot about it until last week when I found it on an ex rental really cheap. En Chance Til asks the viewer questions like what would you do?, what is right and what is wrong? and even though you know what's morally right, they're impossible to answer unless you're (god forbid) in a similar situation yourself. What if? As a father to a 8 month old son, this was one of the most difficult movies I've ever seen. That one scene really took me by surprise and when the movie was over I thanked my lucky stars and reminded myself not to take anything for granted. A rough watch but a really good one!
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