A War

Danish director Tobias Lindholm says he has “always liked American Vietnam War movies and sees them as a way for American society to collectively process a trauma.” This film is his “stab at processing Denmark’s presence in Iraq and Afghanistan . . .It’s high time we address what we have sent our men off to in the name of democracy.” “A War” follows the military maneuvers of a relatively small unit pitted against the Taliban in a dreary, dirt-choked battle zone in Afghanistan. In the wake of losing comrades to mine fields and ambush, we can’t help but question the futility of it all, all the more so when company commander Claus Pedersen (Pilou Asbaek) makes a decision out of desperation while his unit is under siege — a decision that has consequences on the battlefield and at home in Denmark where his wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) struggles to keep herself and her three kids going. Except for his two leads, Lindholm cast actual soldiers from the front as well as Afghan refugees. It pays off. Their veracity is startling. While we follow the company’s patrols and their encounters with natives (whose alliances are impossible to distinguish), we — as viewers — can’t wait to get the hell out of there and back to civilization. Once we do, we discover there is no end to war.

– Mal Karman

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