I’m feeling so sheepish for having skipped seeing this for so long — because I’m so blown away by this film’s simplicity and elegance. There’s something so unnerving about the blue, blue eyes of these Scandinavian men as they perceive the world around them and try to make sense of it. Its themes about the nature and inevitability of violence, the psychology of revenge, and the sources of petty cruelty are painted so exactly and without decoration that I can’t believe it has never been done before. Most moving for me is young Elias (Markus Rygaard), whom the mean boys call “Rat Face” at school; but equally touching is his father (Mikael Persbrandt, above) who’s determined to model gentleness and gentlemanliness to his sons. Beautiful, stunning: it’s exactly right that Danish director Susanne Bier has won the Oscar and all those piles of other awards. I don’t even want to ramble on about it — just see it.

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