28 February 2009

Kongekabale / King's Game (2004) : A Review

Eleven days before a Danish general election, the opposition Centre Party is riding high in the polls. Then, the unexpected happens: their leader is hospitalized due to an accident. Deputy leader, Lone Kjeldsen (Nastja Arcel) makes a tilt for the leadership. When journalist Ulrik Torp (Anders W. Berthelsen), recently appointed to the parliamentary news desk, starts getting wind of a possible fraud committed by Lone's husband, Mads (Lars Brygmann), he wonders he's a pawn in a party coup. Could it be organized by the shadow finance minister Erik Dreier Jenssen (Søren Pilmark) and his press secretary Peter Schou (Lars Mikkelsen)?

This film criticizes the media's cosy relationship with political parties and government, where the press is all too willing to participate in spin rather than to discover the truth. However, it's not subtle in presenting this point of view: Ulrik seems much too idealistic and naïve to have lasted long in journalism, Lone is too ineffectual to be the deputy of a political party and Dreier just radiates animosity. Also, Nicolas Bro, as free-lance journalist Henrik Moll, gives Ulrik an unexpected lecture on the problems of the modern media.

After getting that message off their chests, writer Rasmus Heisterberg and co-writer and director Nikolaj Arcel pick up the pace, making the second half of the film a more involving thriller.

Moderately good thriller, though a little too contrived and earnest at the start.

Danish with English subtitles

3 out of 5 stars.

Kam-Hung Soh

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