Dir. Jacob Theusen. Den.2005. 105mins.
Jacob Theusen's debutfeature Accused, which competed in Berlin, initially looks like awell-intentioned TV drama on the topical subject of child molestation. Butwhile in its early stages it tries to depart from the genre's usual formula,this event-driven drama ultimately deviates from its course after the first andsecond acts. By the end audiences are left wondering whether they have beenwatching a psychological drama, a social issues feature or a whodunit thriller- each of which would have made for a legitimate approach to the subject, hadany of them been explored in full.
The feature's theme is boundto generate interest beyond Denmark, but given its treatment here the bestchances lie on the small screen.
Henrik Christiansen (Lyby)is a swimming instructor while his wife Nina (Grabol) promotes seminars and isoften away from home. Their 14-year-old daughter Stine (Kristine RosendkransMikkelsen) is something of a problem, an adolescent with a fertile imaginationand an evident incapacity to distinguish between reality and fiction.
One day she approaches theschool counsellor and claims that her father has sexually assaulted her onseveral occasions. The law is called in, Stine is moved to a shelter and Henrikis thrown in jail until his case comes to court. In an interesting decision,Stine is kept off screen up until this point, making her first appearance inthe witness stand some 40 minutes into the film.
By the time the swift trialis over and Henrik is acquitted, only half the picture has unfolded.Expectation would be that the rest of the running time would be dedicated tothe impact of such events on the family as it tries to rebuild.
But it is only at this pointthat Jacob Theusen chooses to seriously explore the veracity of Stine'saccusation for the first time, leading the plot into a lachrymose closure witheffusive religious undertones.
Kim Fupz Aakeson's scriptfollows the predictable course dictated by the occasion, from the presentationof the happily married couple with the moody daughter, through the inevitablesequence of events and cold, correct application of the law to the expeditiouscourt sequences and the post-acquittal conduct of friends, neighbours andacquaintances.
Thuesen's direction keepsthe story moving efficiently ahead, his past experience as an editor evident inthe picture's confident pace. His expertise is also reflected on the technicalfront, as he obtains a highly polished performance from all departments.
But he is far less securewith the treatment of each individual character, never scratching beneath thesurface nor providing them with any personality beyond the predictablestereotype, and failing to adequately prepare audiences for the surprise hesprings on them at the very end.
Committed, sympatheticperformances from Troels Lyby and Sophie Grabol, both reliable performers withscreen presences that can compensate for the odd script failing, are not enoughto cover up the shortcomings.
Prod cos: Nordisk Film, Director's Cut, TV2/Denmark, NordiskFilm & TV Fund, Danish Film Institute
Den dist/int'l sales: Nordisk
Exec prod: Kim Magnusson
Prod: Thomas Heinesen
Scr: Kim Fupz Aakeson
Cine: Sebastian Blenkov
Ed: Per K Kirkegaard
Prod des: Mia Stensgaard
Mus: Nikolaj Egelund
Main cast: Troels Lyby, SofieGrabol, Kristine Rosenkrands-Mikkelsen, Paw Henriksen, Louise Mientz, BodilJorgensen, Kristian Halken, Charlotte Sieling