Continuing its programme of complementing the release of new series with titles sourced from the archives of Scandinavian film studios, Arrow Films brings us it’s latest DVD, Accused. Made in 2006 the film has parallels with Thomas Vinterberg’s 2012 movie The Hunt in that both are concerned with the consequences of allegations of paedophilia. Whereas the 2012 movie focused on the emotional and social consequences of an innocent man being accused of molestation, Accused‘s primary focal point is the slow destruction of a family when an allegation of incest is made by the daughter.
Director Jacob Thuesen and screenwriter Kim Fupz Aakeson have crafted a film that vacillates between dreamlike and nightmarish .The decision to be ambiguous about the accused’s guilt or innocence for much of the film is a deliberate editorial choice that results in the viewer feeling confused over what emotions should be experienced: sympathy or relief that justice is being metered out. Similarly, the stylistic choices made in the use of framing and lighting appear to have been made on the basis of not creating or accentuating a particular interpretation.
The film takes its inspiration from an incident in screenwriter Kim Fupz Aakeson’s childhood when a man from the local community was arrested for raping a woman at a train station. Forever more tainted by the allegation he would no longer be regarded within the locality solely as a father, a friend, or good employee. From that moment onwards doubt would remain about his self proclaimed innocence.
Whilst promoted as a Sofie Gråbøl starring movie, Accused’s lead actor is Troels Lyby who plays Henrik a father protesting his innocence, fighting against suspicion, whilst trying to prevent his wife from leaving him. With his wife Nina, Henrik should have an idyllic middle class life but something is wrong, something is very wrong. The teenage daughter, Stine, should be an an ever present physical presence around which the family revolves but is instead mysteriously withdrawn and it is this absence that creates a crack which has the power to destroy the very foundations of the household.
Henrik is a swimming instructor, and this choice of career allows the director and screenwriter to play a highly intelligent game with the viewer in which they explore the plurality of cinematic metaphors associated with water; source of life and representation of sexuality. As instructor, Henrik is in a position of responsibility that requires him to act as both carer and mentor, this parallels his duties as father so therefore the potential risk should the allegations be proven is very great in terms of the home and the safety of those being tutored.
At first it seems as though Henrik has a comfortable life: married to Nina, a secure job and the trust and respect of his colleagues and those being taught to swim. From the opening frames we, the viewers, know that this life must surely be torn apart, and throughout the rest of the film we are not quite sure if it can ever again be put back together. Even if found not guilty will parents continue to allow him to teach their children to swim? Might the the court of public opinion carry out its own independent verdict and sentencing?
At personal, familial, and social levels this film explores the devastation caused by that the spectre of paedophilia. That we are unsure of Henrik’s guilt or innocence for much of the movie creates an interesting situation in which we must explore our own attitudes to how cases are investigated, and if the support network for those making allegations is effective or over zealous.
An indispensable DVD. In common with Vinterberg’s The Hunt this is a film that will remain with you long after the end credits.
Accused is available on DVD from Amazon: