Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 stars
Bottom Line: An effective telling of war and its consequences. What’s right in war and what’s a crime?
Set under the backdrop of the War on Terror in Afghanistan, “A War” follows a Danish patrol as they do sweeps of the countryside, focusing on the actions of the commander of the patrol, Claus Michael Pederson (Pilous Asbæk). A secondary story follow Pederson’s wife, Maria (Tuva Novotny) as she struggles back home to juggle job and family while her husband is at war.
If you can’t tell by the actors’ names, here thar be subtitles, so be warned. The movie is in Danish with English subtitles. If that scares you, you’re missing some great movies. The EU is producing some great films these days. And by “these days”, I mean the last few decades. They’re not high budget blockbusters, but there are more than a handful of low budget gems.
But back to the movie. Say you’re in active combat with unknown enemies. You’re pinned down and can’t see where the active fire originates. There are not many options, though. You know your terrain and you know your enemy does as well. Do you call for an air strike on the most obvious enemy position in an attempt to save your people? If you answered yes, congratulations, you have just committed a war crime. But the firefight ended immediately after the air strike, you argue? Doesn’t matter. Did you or did you not establish that there were enemy combatants in the area you just had bombed? No? War crime. This is the shit people at war have to deal with on a daily basis. This is also why countries like the U.S. unilaterally declare any male who has gone through puberty as an enemy combatant. To protect their people in the shit. Because by the book war crimes happen on a daily basis when a country decides to go to war and we might as well offer our soldiers some sort of protection while they’re fighting for us since we sure as hell don’t offer it to them when they return.
“A War” is a movie that has lots of questions and very few answers. This is on purpose. It’s meant to make you think and it does an admirable job of accomplishing that goal. If you prefer your movies a little less thought provoking, you might want to look elsewhere. But if you want a smart, well thought out view of life at war, “A War” is well worth your time and treasure.