A Second Chance Review (TIFF2014)

Posted 7 years ago by myetvmedia

Before The TIFF14 debut screening of A Second Chance began, director Susanne Bier warned us of its challenging subject matter, wishing us good luck before she left the stage. It’s a bold setup, and after a festival full of doom and gloom, I prepared myself for my heaviest blow yet. But while it’s certainly no light fare, Bier’s film misses the emotional mark, feeling more like a pantomime than a gut shot.

Bier teams with writer Anders Thomas Jensen for their first collaboration since 2010′s Academy Award-winning In A Better World. Here, they tell the story of Andreas, played by Game of Thrones star Nicolaj Coster-Waldau. Andreas and his wife (Maria Bonnevie) suffer tragedy when their infant son passes away in the night. Unable to cope with the grief, Andreas hatches a plot to swap his deceased infant for a neglected baby kept in filth by its drug addict parents. The plan sends Andreas and his family into a downward spiral that they can’t pull out of.

On the surface, A Second Chance seems like it should be a complex heart-wrencher. After all, is there anything more difficult to watch than child abuse? But the elements don’t feel real: Coster-Waldau is certainly no Jaime Lannister here, but his performance still has an air of distance to it, as if he’s an observer looking in. Likewise, the events feel too contrived to carry their proper emotional weight. They work as pieces, but when put together, it’s all a little too unbelievable.

Make no mistake, A Second Chance is still a decent, well-made film, full of tough moral questions and hard-to-watch moments. But as far as powerhouses go, expectations fall nowhere near Bier’s hard sell.

Nimy Leshinski

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