As children, Nick and his little brother take care of their baby brother while their mother drinks herself senseless. But the baby dies, and both brothers blame themselves. Many years later, Nick is out of prison after serving time for an assault. He drinks, lives in a shelter and tries to help an old friend. When their mother dies, Nick meets his brother at the funeral. The brother, who remains nameless, is a single father to a young boy, but also supports a drug habit that is spiraling out of control. When an opportunity presents itself, he becomes a drug dealer to secure his son's future. Eventually, the two brothers meet again. (imdb)
A story about two estranged brothers, marked by a childhood of gloom. They were separated from each other at a young age by a tragedy that split their entire family. Today, Nick's life is drenched in alcohol and plagued by violence, while his kid brother, a solo-parent, struggles as a junkie to give his son a better life. Their paths cross, making a confrontation inevitable, but is redemption possible? (det danske institut)
I have not read the novel, and barely knew that this was based upon one. This film is like a splinter in your heart, from the first frame to the last. It is pushed to the limit of what we can handle of authentic misery. The social realism, so unrelenting, such rich detail to it, and none of it strains credulity. I was interested in this from when I first heard of it, and when I found out it was by Thomas Vinterberg, the man behind Festen and Dear Wendy, I knew I would watch this. He does wonders with the editing and the cinematography, creating a bleak and mundane(not to be confused with ugly or boring) feel to the visuals, matching the lives of the people we are witnessing and their environment. The camera stays "in the background", letting what we see speak for itself. This has impeccable writing, the events, the dialog(and its delivery), the crowning little touches, it's all excellent. In the end, what truly makes this work beyond belief is the amazing acting from everyone(who are all perfectly cast, as well), and that definitely also goes for the children(who, might I add, are charming and sweet kids, too, including the baby; seriously, can't you count on one hand the infants in movies that are *genuinely* cute?
This is one of the only ones, in over a century of the medium), who deliver some of the most astonishing performances seen from ones around that age. Honestly, there is perhaps one single(and entirely understandable) moment that isn't completely convincing, but everything that comes before or since is. In spite of all that we see them do, we sympathize with the credible and well-developed characters. There is a lot of disturbing content, a bit of violence, some sexuality and infrequent strong language in this. I recommend this to anyone mature enough for the subject matter, at least if you can handle it. 10/10