Jacob Thuesen, a former editor for Danish directors Susanne Bier and Lars von Trier, had a very simple premise for his first film as a director: “Imagine if you got picked up by the police one day…” The film is called Angklaget (Accused) and tells the story of Henrik (Troels Lyby), a swimming instructor whose professional-, social- and family life is turned upside down when his difficult teenage daughter Stine (Kirstine Rosenkrands Mikkelsen) accuses him of having sexually abused her when she was younger. Stine’s mother Nina (Sofie Gråbøl) is shocked that her own daughter would do something so horrible; she knows her daughter has a history of lying about her parents, but never have their been such grave consequences. Stine is no longer allowed to stay at her parents house and is asked to press charges against her father, while Henrik has to wait in prison until his trial begins.
The story of Anklaget of course touches upon the aspect of whether or not Henrik actually is guilty of the accusations made by his daughter, but they are not the main reason to tell this story. Thuesen’s film, expertly written by Kim Fupz Aakeson, is more interested in the consequences of Stine’s words and the havoc they wreak upon her own family and friends regardless of Henrik’s innocence or the lack thereof. Stine’s words (which often were lies or inventions of her own) used to create problems for her parents, but these problems staid indoors. Her latest accusation, however, is now the cause of a legal case against her father in which her word will be measured against his and in which the judge will essentially have just these two elements to decide what is the truth behind these condemning utterances.
As Henrik experiences on his first day in prison, he is considered guilty even before the trial starts, as his warden speaks rather unkindly about “his kind”. His co-swimming instructor Pede (Paw Henriksen) is one of the of the few friends who keeps believing that he is innocent, but now it is Henrik who doubts the sincerity of Pede’s intentions. Because of the excellent performances from Lyby and Henriksen, the audiences see the destruction the words of Henrik’s daughter bring to their collegiality and friendship. The true scene-stealer however is Gråbøl as Henrik’s wife Nina. She is closest to the audience because she cannot be sure completely either. She wants to believe in her husband’s innocence, but understandably, there is that little voice in her head that says “What if my daughter did not lie this time?”
As one would expect from a former editor, the pacing is excellent even though it sometimes is unusual (we never actually see Stine until the trial starts, for example) and the revelations come in a carefully planned but largely natural manner. In the end, the true force of Anklaget will still partially hinge on the viewer’s final verdict on Henrik’s good or bad behaviour, but Thuesen gives us a lot of worthwhile things to ponder along the way, which is more than can be said of most thrillers.
Subtitles:eng – mdvd