Susanne Bier is a Danish director whose movies The One and Only, Open Hearts and Brothers have found an increasingly enthusiastic audience here: extremely well-acted, well-directed features comparable to classy British television drama.
Here is another elegant and well-turned piece of work, perhaps Bier’s most persuasive movie yet. Mads Mikkelsen plays Jacob, an aid worker in Mumbai, fiercely committed to helping the needy children who adore him. He is a driven man who appears to have channelled various personal demons into his missionary zeal. Just when his charity programme looks as if it is going to go under for lack of funds, he is invited back to Copenhagen to meet a billionaire hotelier who hints that he might bankroll the whole project. This is the charming, dynamic Jorgen (Rolf Lassgard); he introduces Jacob to his beautiful wife Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen), even invites him to his daughter’s wedding, and appears to protract Jacob’s visit with mysterious new afterthoughts and provisos.
A weird duel develops between the two men that has at its heart an awful personal secret. As with many of Bier’s films, a certain suspension of disbelief is necessary: but she has a distinctive and engaging storytelling style.