Little Soldier (Lille Soldat)
Trine Dyrholm, Finn Nielsen, Lorna Brown, Rasmus Botoft, Jens Jørn Spottag, Thure Lindhardt, Henrik Prip / Fiction / Danish, English
A powerful drama of family ties and gender roles, exquisitely performed.
The collaboration between director Annette K Olesen and scriptwriter Kim Fupz Aakeson has proved a very productive one. Socially committed filmmakers, they’ve covered a lot of ground in their four films together: family dysfunction in Minor Mishaps (2002), the limitations of faith and the prison system in In Your Hands (2004), ethnic tensions in a housing project in 1:1 (2006), and now the aftermath of wars and those who fight in them in Little Soldier. Disillusioned and more than a little numb, perhaps even shell-shocked, The Little Soldier in question is Lotte, a somewhat masculine Danish female soldier returning from war in Afghanistan ... or could it be Iraq? When she attempts to borrow money from her estranged father, he offers her a job as driver and minder for Lily – a Nigerian in the country illegally, and his girlfriend-cumbest- girl – in his prostitution enterprise, a sideline to his seemingly legitimate haulage business. Though Lotte once again finds herself a woman in a man’s world, a surprising, touching friendship between the two women develops, and Lotte's instinct to protect or even save kicks in again. But who really needs saving? There’s a lot going on here – prostitution, third world exploitation, gender issues, western imperialism, the dehumanising effect of war – but the centre of Olesen’s intriguing tale is undoubtedly the relationship between Lotte and her father. It’s beautifully unexplained, and all the more intriguing for it. We’re left to ponder just exactly how much contact there has been between the two of them over the years (she claims to have been brought up by her grandparents) and it could well be that much of her adult life has been spent seeking his approval. It is also unclear just how much of Lotte’s ‘maleness’ stems from that wish to please him and become, perhaps, the son he would have preferred. The leads are universally excellent: Trine Dyrholm gives a fearless performance worthy of her standing as one of Denmark’s leading actresses, Finn Nielsen is strongly convincing as a candidate for world’s worst dad, and British actress Lorna Brown (a regular on UK television in The Bill) handles the step up to feature films with consummate ease as Lily.
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