Land of Mine, B+
Rated R, 101 minutes
In German and Danish with English subtitles
The poignant, often harrowing new Danish drama "Land of Mine" is inspired by real, war-time events. It's also an agonizing portrait of the complexities of war and that its real casualties may be those who actually survive it.
In post-World War II Denmark, a group of young German POWs, naturally led by the roguish Sebastian (Louis Hoffman) is forced to clear a beach of thousands of land mines under the watch of a Danish Sergeant (Danish actor Roland Moller, excellent) who slowly learns to appreciate their plight.
Nominated for this year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, "Land of Mine" is written and directed by Danish filmmaker Martin Zandvliet, is an absorbing, often chilling look at what these very young German soldiers endured to clear mines in Denmark.
Superbly acted by Moller, Hoffman and all the young boys playing the soldiers, there's as many compelling moments as there are harrowing ones; Zandvliet provides a fresh approach to these scenes as the boys must clear the mines, and you'll hold your breath each time they head out on to that beach, knowing what could lie ahead. Zandvliet perfectly captures the heartbreak of war, and it's clearly evident in the look of pain and defeat on the boys' faces, who clearly know their fate before they set foot on the dangerous seaside.
Adding to the emotional layers of "Land of Mine," which is a metaphor to describe both the boys harrowing work as well as their longing for their homeland, is the handsome photography from Camilla Hjelm Knudsen and the elegant score from Sune Martin. The story is solid until the last act, when it's filled with a few calculated moves, as the hard-nosed Sergeant, who is initially the boys' enemy, becomes their ally.
The compelling "Land of Mine" is filled with many powerful moments, and ones you won't easily forget. It's not an easy watch, but it's one that'll stay with you well after you leave the theater.