A War | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A War

Danish drama set in Afghanistan examines eternal war question: When is OK to kill?


As part of the international coalition, a group of Danish soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan. They are led by Pedersen (Pilou Asbaek), who as a more sensitive military leader pitches in on some of the disliked work, such as patrols through local villages, where those who pose threats are hard to distinguish from those in need. That’s one half of Tobias Lindholm’s solidly acted war drama; the rest takes place back in Denmark, where Pedersen’s wife struggles with their three kids during long absences. Then a patrol goes sideways and people are killed. This shifts the film’s focus to one of armed conflict’s most basic moral quandaries: In a battle situation, it’s OK, even admirable, to kill some people, but other deaths might constitute a crime. Not only does Pedersen wrestle with this dilemma, both during and after the event, but so does a legal tribunal. What is the emotional and even larger societal cost when a decision to save one life costs the lives of others?

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