Thursday, 1 August 2013

Review: Accused (2005)

Sofie Gråbøl makes a welcome return to the screen in the UK release of Accused (2005), a dark, psychological drama costarring fellow The Killing alumni, Søren Malling and Troels Lyby and directed by Jacob Thuesen. The film centres around an accusation of abuse within a family unit. Henrik (Troels Lyby) is a swimming instructor, employed in a position of trust within the community. He dotes on his beloved spouse Nina (Sofie Gråbøl) and the two have a seemingly perfect relationship. 

However, their fourteen year old daughter Stine (Kirstine Rosenkrands Mikkelsen) is becoming an increasing cause for concern as she refuses to communicate with her parents and spends her life at home locked in the confinements of her bedroom. It is soon recommended that Stine should visit the school counsellor for assistance with her social issues but during one counseling session she accuses her father of a horrific crime that threatens to tear the family to pieces. Stine is removed from the family home and her father is arrested and taken into custody.

Due to her daughter’s history of fabricating the truth, Nina supports her husband throughout the investigation until finally he is acquitted. Henrick’s reputation suffers greatly at the hands of the allegation, and it has an unfortunate affect on his employment and friendships. Over time, Nina encourages a return to familial normality and suggests a reconciliation. There is plenty of explaining to be done away from the guidance of the authorities and as the family reunite, the dark truth begins to emerge as the reason behind the horrific accusation is revealed. Thuesen’s film is dank, dark and deliciously Danish.

The exploration of an allegation of abuse and all that follows is a tricky and sensitive subject and the director does a sterling job of exploring both the consequences of the accused and the mentality of the accuser. A tight lid is kept on the truth so uncertainty follows the viewer throughout, thus adding to the complexities of the plot and ensuring that the audience remains thoroughly engaged in events as they unfold. The shadow of doubt is cast over all characters and Theusen plays on this, using his camera to study every inch of them in explicitly fine detail. Henrick and Nina’s marital relationship is explored in scenes of voyeuristic intimacy, credit to which belongs to the fine talents of Lyby and Gråbøl who together add great authenticity to their character’s chemistry. Anyone expecting a reprisal of her Sarah Lund role may be disappointed but Gråbøl really proves her worth here, demonstrating the range of her talent, yet never losing the icy stoicism that her fans have grown to love. Lyby grabs an especially challenging role with both hands to create an enthralling and monumental lead.

Daughter, Stine is kept away from the viewer and prior to the film’s climax is only shown once via videolink, where the director chooses to focus on her fathers reaction to her as opposed to the actresses performance. This is an intelligent decision, that disables viewers from placing their loyalties with any specific party. It is considerably frustrating, yet judiciously adds to the challenging nature of the film. Accused is not a pleasant experience, it is a study of a dark and complex topic and it places the viewer at the centre of a distressing circumstance, but this is bold, brave and confrontational cinema at its very best. Emotional, disturbing and fraught with tension Accused is a remarkably original film, filled with affectional performances that lead to a pitch black conclusion. One that will resonate long after the credits roll.

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