DVD Review: 'Accused'

Sofie Gråbøl makes a welcome return to the small screen with the UK DVD release of Accused (Anklaget, 2005), a dark, psychological drama co-starring fellow The Killing alumni Søren Malling, 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 14-year-old daughter Stine (Kirstine Rosenkrands Mikkelsen) is becoming an increasing cause for concern.

It's soon recommended that Stine visit the school counsellor for assistance with her social issues, but during one counselling 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. Yet Henrik's reputation suffers greatly at the hands of the allegation, and has an unfortunate affect on his employment and friendships.

Thuesen's Accused 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 also cast over all characters and Thuesen plays on this, using his camera to study every inch of them in explicitly fine detail.

Henrik 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. Meanwhile, Stine is kept away from the viewer and prior to the film's climax is only shown once via video link. This is an intelligent decision, that disables viewers from placing their loyalties with any specific party.

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, this is a remarkably original Scandi feature, filled with affecting performances that lead to a pitch black conclusion; one that will resonate long after the credits have rolled.

Leigh Clark


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