A Second Chance DVD Review

Director, Susanne Bier and writer, Anders Thomas Jensen reunite once more (In A Better World, Brothers, Love Is All You Need) for hard hitting thriller, A Second Chance. Led by the incredibly talented Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones), A Second Chance poses the question about who really deserves to have a child and who deserves to have their’s taken from them. Whilst the film tries to be gritty and edgy, every so often it finds itself bordering the melodramatic and whilst this doesn’t take away from the power of the film, it probably will divide audiences who are looking for something more intelligent, providing more discussion and answers rather than story and intensity.

But for those who are intrigued by the story itself and the journey that the characters take, it’s a brilliant watch. A hard watch, intense and gripping, powerful and telling but certainly one that the audience will walk away from in silence.

A Second Chance illustrates the creative skill and unique power of Jensen’s writing; his story grows piece by piece, pushing the characters harder as the film continues.

He delicately adds another layer to the story, which once more provides a new direction. He masterfully sets up three spheres of action within the film. Firstly the world of Tristan (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and Sanne (May Andersen), a pair of junkies who live in squalor with a crying baby, who is uncared for and ignored. When Andreas (Coster-Waldau) and his police partner, Simon (Ulrich Thomsen) discover the baby, they appeal to the authorities to have it removed but their appeal is turned down because the baby is apparently not malnourished. For some reason though, they ignore that the baby is covered in it’s own urine and feces. At the end of the day, Andreas goes home to his loving wife, Anna (Maria Bonnevie) and their new born baby. Here is the first place that the audience see a real tension within the story; the (although rather heavily handled) juxtaposition between a loving family and a hateful one is presented. Both have young babies, which are likely to grow up in very different worlds. The third world is Simon’s, who can’t see his child as his ex-wife won’t allow it. So instead he reacts badly, getting drunk on nights out and causing a ruckus in town. He is so distraught that he can’t see his child that the walls around his world are slowly crumbling.

One night a cruel twist of fate plays a game on Andreas and Anna, which leads them down a path neither could have ever imagined. Their lives instantly become inter tangled with that of Tristan and Sanne and things are likely to never be the same again. Soon the beats of the film change; it goes from a family drama and turns somewhat sharply integrating thriller elements into the story. Everything is at risk and soon Andreas starts to lose everything he holds dear around him. The mirroring of the lives between the two couples is presented on screen with flair and passion in the hope to get the audience talking about the subject matter and deciding whether what Andreas does is really right or wrong – both Jensen and Bier are not in the game of judging and leave it to the audience to decide.

Bier’s filmmaking (as to be expected) is charming, graceful and full of life and passion. She studies the characters of the film with close ups, forcing the audience to get closer to the characters and throw themselves within the story right from the very start. She interacts and explores the environments of the action with the intention of bringing the audience into the story and playing their own part. She can never quite get away from the melodrama of the piece, handling the light of the film in the same way that the script deals with the characters. When inside Andreas and Anna’s house, they are bathed in golden light, twinkling from their perfect blonde hair within their bright and clean house. But when Tristan and Sanne are on screen, the colour turn darker, the greys take over and consume what the audience are watching. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just requires the audience to slightly adjust their expectations of the story.

A Second Chance has its chance to ask questions and instead it goes down the route of melodramatic storytelling, pushing twist after twist, but if the audience walks in with this expectation, they are likely to be pleasantly surprised.

Out on DVD from Monday August 10th

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