The Movie Waffler New Release Review - <i>A Second Chance</i> | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - A Second Chance

Following the death of his child, a cop steals the infant son of a heroin addicted couple.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Susanne Bier

Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, May Andersen, Maria Bonnevie

After the disastrous debacle of the much troubled and delayed Serena, a project that on paper should have propelled Susanne Bier into the Hollywood A-list, the Danish director is back working on her home turf, reteaming with writer Anders Thomas Jensen for this tense and gritty thriller. It's a triumphant return home for Bier and a movie that couldn't be more different in tone from her 2012 Anglo-Danish romantic comedy Love Is All You Need.
A former Copenhagen cop, Andreas (Coster-Waldau) is now living an idyllic life in a relatively tranquil area of Denmark. He has a beautiful wife (Bonnevie), an infant son and a home that seems way out of a policeman's financial league. When a lowlife thug, Tristan (Kaas), Andreas knew back in Copenhagen moves to his new neck of the woods, Andreas decides to pay him a visit. There he finds Tristan and his girlfriend Sanne (Andersen) displaying all the signs of heroin addiction and seemingly hiding a secret, which turns out to be an infant boy covered in his own excrement in what could be the most disturbing image of 2015.
Andreas attempts to have the child taken from the neglectful couple but the authorities are unable to grant his wish. When his own son dies in the middle of the night, and his distraught wife threatens to commit suicide if her boy is taken from her, Andreas breaks into Tristan and Sanne's flat and steals their child, leaving the corpse of his own son in its place. Tristan falls for it but Sanne knows something is up. Soon Andreas finds his plan is severely flawed, as his situation escalates from bad to worse in his attempts to maintain the facade.
The premise of A Second Chance is so high concept it's a wonder no filmmaker has tackled this subject previously. It's a scenario that comes loaded with debates about class and state interference. Initially, witnessing the living conditions Tristan and Sanne have inflicted on their infant son, it's impossible not to take Andreas' side, dubious as his actions are. As things unravel and the details of the protagonists involved become clear, we begin to rethink our stance and our initial prejudices are exposed in some skillful manipulation on the part of Bier and Jensen. After the fact, some of the plot twists may seem a tad contrived, but Bier keeps things moving at a brisk pace, denying us time to pick apart the mechanics of the plot.
Next up for Bier is a venture into TV with The Night Manager, but it wouldn't be a surprise if a US remake of A Second Chance were announced. After Serena, it's unlikely Bier will have any involvement. Hollywood's loss is Denmark's gain.