Starring Lasse Rimmer. In Danish with English subtitles. Rated 18A. Opens Friday, November 19, at the Granville 7 Cinemas
See if this plot line sounds familiar. A liberal intellectual moves to a small town populated almost entirely by rednecks. The village Neanderthals have a thing for the outsider’s dishy wife, while the outsider finds himself obliged to protect a mentally challenged man at the risk of his own life. Drunken riffraff are inflamed by the town patriarch, and the intellectual discovers a capacity for violence he never knew he possessed.
Watch the trailer for Deliver Us From Evil.
Straw Dogs, right? Well, no, actually. It’s Deliver Us From Evil, a film by Danish director Ole Bornedal that takes Sam Peckinpah’s original right-wing blueprint and puts a slightly more progressive spin on it.
In this revamping, Johannes (Lasse Rimmer), a successful lawyer, returns to the house where he was born because his truck-driving brother Lars (Jens Andersen) can’t afford to restore it. His wife, Pernille (Lene Nystrí¸m Rasted), seems to embody all the social-democratic virtues, while the conservative fulminations of the military-minded Ingvar (Mogens Pedersen) are put into perspective by our knowledge that he lost his soldier son in former Yugoslavia. The local scapegoat is “Nigger” Alain (Bojan Navojec), a Bosnian refugee whose slow-moving brain nonetheless retains the memory of his family’s extermination. Then someone dies in a road accident, and Ingvar turns into an eye-for-an-eye avenger.
Inevitably, Johannes fights back, but there is no sense of justification in any of his ingenious ploys. Pernille is horrified by his transformation until she herself is twice transformed by what subsequently ensues. As for Alain, he turns out to be considerably more than just a simple victim.
Shot in colour bleached to near-monochrome, this thriller is actually more satisfying than Sam Peckinpah’s original. The questions it raises are more complex, and its belief in the nature of evil is more subtle than Ingvar’s.
All in all, an exciting and provocative film.