Mads Mikkelsen, whom we last saw taking a rope to James Bond’s family jewels, is here up to a far more praiseworthy activity: helping run a school for orphans in an impoverished region of India. The school is struggling to survive, and when a Danish businessman expresses an interest in providing stable funding, but only if Mikkelsen comes to Denmark for a meeting, the latter is reluctantly persuaded to leave India for the encounter. At said meeting, the tycoon (Rolf Lassgard) casually (it seems) invites Mikkelsen to his daughter’s wedding. Mikkelsen accepts, and at that wedding receives quite a shock. Lassgard, it turns out, has a very personal secret agenda at work.
To say more would be to spoil one among the many surprises the film unleashes upon both characters and audience. Most especially on the former, since the story also follows some twists familiar and predictable to any fan of the melodrama. And that is, essentially, what we have here, the modern inheritor of the likes of Stella Dallas and Dark Victory. That isn’t a bad thing. The big emotions are earned honestly, and Lassgard’s performance climaxes in a scene of such intensity that the word “raw” scarcely does it justice.
The 5.1 track is in whatever language it is natural for the characters to be speaking, and this is, most of the time, Danish. The sound is crisp and clean, and free of distortion, but it is also rather spare in the sound design department, in that there is very little surround other than the score. Scenes that would invite immersive effects, such as the street sequences in India or the wedding reception itself, have next to nothing in this department.
The colours are strong, capturing the arid head of India and the lushness of Lassgard’s countryside home. The overall sense is one of natural warmth. The flesh tones are strong, the image is sharp, and the contrasts are good, too. The picture is never murky, nor does it succumb to grain or edge enhancement. A very nice transfer.
The subtitled interview with director Susanne Bier, shows her to be a director with an intimate understanding of her medium who knows EXACTLY what she is doing. The same is true of the interview with her that accompanies the eight deleted scenes. The theatrical trailer is joined by previews of other new releases.
Some reviews have compared this to such Dogme 95 films as The Celebration. While this film is far more pictorially elaborate than that, it does share that film’s emotional intensity.