fri 18/10/2019

DVD: A War | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: A War

DVD: A War

Restrained moral drama from the director of ‘A Hijacking’

Pilou Asbæk's Company Commander Claus Pedersen faces the music in Tobias Lindholm's 'A War'

The premise driving A War – lead character Claus Pedersen’s war – is the decision he makes as Company Commander while leading an army patrol in Afghanistan: whether or not to say he and his Danish unit are under attack from a specific house in a village.

Up to this pivotal moment, Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) and his fellow soldiers are seen in their camp and going out on patrol. Routine. The day-to-day life of his wife and children, at home in Copenhagen, is contrasted with the posting. Although apart, each lives in a pressure cooker: his due to the conflict; hers as a result of dealing with their two children in an atmosphere of constant uncertainty. Phone calls do not bring comfort.

After this pivotal moment, Pedersen is back in Denmark and on trial for potentially having no basis for bringing planes in to destroy the house. There seems to be no evidence to support his choice. He may even have been a reckless commander: should he have been on patrol at all? His trial, where he is represented by the pragmatic Martin Olsen (a reliably sharp Søren Malling), and the return to a strained home life take up just over the final third of the film.

The Oscar-nominated A War (Krigen) is directed by Tobias Lindholm, whose absolutely gripping 2012 drama A Hijacking also starred Asbæk and Malling. This, though, is not a war film and does not hit as hard. About the day-to-day experience, its impact and as a drama of morals, it is restrained. Maybe too much so. Much of the film is flat and dramatic tension levels are even throughout – like a pot on low boil. Momentum is lacking.

Despite this Asbæk and Malling are compelling, but Tuva Novotny as Pedersen’s wife Maria borders on drab. It feels like an extended TV drama: Lindholm wrote for Borgen and his finessed approach here may have more comfortably suited the smaller screen or even the stage. There are no extras on the home cinema release. A pity, as an understanding of Lindholm’s approach may have enhanced appreciation of A War.

Much of 'A War' is flat – like a pot on low boil


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.