Last Updated on Sunday, 27 November 2016 12:03
Jesper W. Nielsen, Denmark
The world’s imagination awakes to the possibility of man reaching the moon in 1961. Especially for gentle, kind-hearted Elmer: as an astronaut, he will be unhindered by his clubfoot. More realistic is Erik: older, protective, caring. When their single, working-class mother is hospitalized, child protective services send them to a home. The first communal breakfast’s disquiet materializes when the Director joins them; answering his questions, repercussions are swift for Elmer and Erik. School is secondary to shop, husbandry, and fieldwork. And cruelties. Most staff only want status quo. All live in anxiety, trepidation, and/or terror. The brothers’ commitment makes each other stronger, as they continue courting trouble. Newly hired, and impressed by Elmer’s classroom aptitude, Ms H. takes him under her wing. Until devious, perverse powers prevail. Survival becomes paramount. Whereby, Elmer, who’s made of “special stuff,” puts his “gift” in motion. One small brave boy, and two brothers’ commitment proves courage can be contagious.
Jesper W. Nielsen sure-handedly directs this tense, sardonic drama with Søren Sveistrup’s acerbic screenplay. Kudos to the exceptional cast; as the delusional Director, Lars Mikkelsen shines. Production design and values excel. Shifting deplorable orphanage’s conditions from Ireland to Denmark, the forte’s a true-life 1967 incident. Subsequently, these events led to the Godhavn Inquiry results in 2011, and reforms. (MH)