Rated: R for violence, some grisly images, and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: March 10, 2017 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
This subtitled German/Danish co-production was another worthy Best Foreign-Language finalist in the recent Academy Awards punctuated by a snafu.
Martin Zandvliet's Land of Mine may not be the classic widescreen war drama, but has its share of tightly drawn moments in a bleak setting that for some might appear to be a relative of The Hurt Locker. With embittered humanity eking through in a post WWII Denmark western shoreline.
The director and writer might pull the strings enough to elicit empathy from the contrivances, but in this case deservedly so from what faces German POWs who aren't ordinary Nazis soldiers. A militia of youth nationals due to the scarcity upon the loss of troops before surrender have put them in the unenviable position of defusing thousands of bombs set long ago to eradicate Allied forces.
The film's most interesting character has to be Sgt. Rasmussen, a weathered, tough-as-nails fellow who operates in lacerating, later sensitive fashion in a fictionalized lesser known part of the country's past. Roland Moller plays him with hard-bitten conviction and pugnaciousness; though a backbone for the larger picture surfaces in an atypical characterization.
After trained by circumspect officer Jensen (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) to get 'under the sand' with minimal resources, the close to dozen 'recruits' often end up in harm's way when it comes to fear, bad luck, or ill-advised action. So, in trying to complete an enormous munitions task in a sector it's not surprising that half were either killed or maimed.
What Zandvliet smartly does is make the difficult proceedings interpretative even if naysayers cynically claim complacency in the execution of what has connected innocent civilians to the malevolent thrust of the finally subdued Third Reich. Yes, in Land of Mine (a cutesy title), a little girl and dog appear to play on emotions, but the prevalent cinematic presentation and honesty of character instability, fortitude, as well as compassion manages a vivid, visceral portrait of another sad, scarred footnote.
|Land of Mine||B||B|