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Film review: A Second Chance – Susanne Bier’s bleak drama about grief and parenthood

Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gives a nuanced performance as a desperate small-town policeman in dark Danish morality tale with a cop-out ending

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 9:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 9:00pm

3/5 stars

Susanne Bier ventures into the chilly realm of Nordic noir for this dark morality tale, first premiered in September 2014 and anchored by a riveting turn by Game of Thrones regular Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. In a chain of tragic events that would not seem out of place in Westeros, he plays Andreas, a small-town cop whose idyllic home life is shattered by the death of his newborn son.

Desperate to halt his grieving wife’s threats of suicide, Andreas makes a fateful decision after discovering a neglected infant at the squalid home of a couple of drug addicts. Suffice to say that Andreas’ plan does not go smoothly, but rather triggers a series of escalating calamities that not only sees him abuse his position as a law enforcement officer, but also descend into a moral quagmire from which there can be no return.

Alongside Nicolas Winding Refn and Lars von Trier, Bier is one of Denmark’s most intriguing directors. Her 2010 film In a Better World won the Oscar for best foreign language film, while her recent BBC drama The Night Manager saw much speculation that she – as well as its star, Tom Hiddleston – had a future with the James Bond franchise. Bier’s other 2014 film, Serena , is, however, a bit of a turkey.

The Night Manager is a compelling take on John le Carré’s novel of the same name

Bier paints an impeccably bleak picture of her homeland, while Coster-Waldau sells the plot’s more implausible moments with a nuanced performance of desperate realism. So frustrating, therefore, that the film fluffs its ending, with a denouement that dispels all the tension and inner conflict that had been built up so masterfully.

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A Second Chance opens on July 21

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