Sometimes a movie you don’t expect much from will surprise you, when that surprise produces quite possibly one of the best directed, acted, thrilling, mesmerizing scripts you have ever seen that surprise is more than just a surprise, it is a memorable moment that sticks with you days, and even weeks, months and years after the viewing. Deliver Us From Evil the Danish film directed by Ole Bornedal is one of the best films I have seen in some time, and deserving of moving into my top 25 of all time, maybe even higher.
Deliver Us From Evil is the story of two brothers, one who has moved back into his quaint Danish town with his wife and children. It seems as if for the one brother everything goes right. The second brother is one where it seems as if everything goes wrong. Jens Andersen who plays the bad brother of Lars seemingly has a horrific accident where he tries to pass the accident off on another. As a result people are blamed for things they may not have done and this working class small town, used to drunken escapades from its town’s people decides to take revenge on an innocent family. In the process, the concepts of faith and decency are challenged with the precept that all persons, even people of seemingly strong Christian beliefs, are challenged with the reality that certainly the potential of evil, if not evil itself dwells within each person.
Deliver Us From Evil opens with quality filmmaking. The opening sequence reminds me stylistically of the noted Richard Attenborough shots of what is called long shots, without any cutaways or edits. The cinematography in this film is simply put, breathtaking. There is more about the direction of Ole Bornedal though. His use of edits, music and quite possibly one of the most unique usages of sound I have seen in a movie in quite some time is cinematic genius. One of the usages of sound he uses is silence, at times when we would expect noise, or harsh reality we hear silence. In one horrific scene towards the end of the movie there are the images of a horrific event, with no sound other than the birds chirping in the background. Deliver Us From Evil has caused me to search out more work from Bornedal because his work is that good.
Deliver Us From Evil starts off with the bad brother, Lars, making a delivery on a delivery truck. Along the way, he has an accident. In his attempt to hide his responsibility in the accident he gets a Bosnian immigrant who has faced his own horrific events to drive the truck as to appear as if he was the one involved in the accident. The Bosnian, Alain works for his brother and family. When the tragedy comes to the awareness of the town’s people, they go after Alain. Lars Brother, Johannes, takes in Alain to protect him. The owner of the truck company, Ingvar, played by Morgens Pederesen, is a highly religious man following in the footsteps of his wife, who is known as one of the most Christian women of the village. Morgens has an evil side though, and before long, many of the good people of the small community is moved to evil in order to execute what they believe is just vengeance.
One of the things we see in Deliver Us From Evil is each character change from their original impression on screen to become a different person at the conclusion of the movie. Where there is the impression of evil from the start, we see that character eventually show some positive traits, we also see characters perceived as good, become evil. Bornedal presents in a provocative way the potential of evil and its impact. The development of these characters is mesmerizing and thought provoking.
Deliver Us From Evil using as a backdrop to its story the exploration of evil, specifically in reference to what is commonly referred to as The Lords Prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Bornedal explores the concept of where evil come from. He presents that there is the potential of evil in each person, and it is more easily accessed than we think. What happens once evil is released is presented in a powerful, horrific, thrilling way that leaves the viewer thinking about what they have seen on screen for some time; for me days after the initial viewing. The importance of protecting ones self from the evil in others and especially the potential of evil within ones self has an impact that will either have us being grateful for the decisions we make, or regretting them and hopefully moving on to something better.
I loved this movie and its power. While there is something I suspect many will dislike, I have held back mentioning it up to this point to hopefully create interest in the film and the willingness of others to see it. For some though, they will have difficulty with the subtitles. While the film is subtitled, it is done so in an interesting way that is easy to read and keep caught up. I love film that incorporates faith perspectives in a real, thought provoking way. While there are harsh realities in this film, from nudity, to language, and even a harsh rape scene, the movie presents in a real way, the dangers of evil and the potential for people to do evil. Sometimes we fight battles around the world without seeing the evil in our own backyards.
One of the things I appreciate, especially in DVD’s is the special features and Deliver Us From Evil delivers. From the Making of Feature to deleted scenes and more, there are things to learn about this movie from watching the features. One thing to learn is the intent of Bornedal regarding the themes of the movie. While many are skeptical of the connection between the religious parallels and themes of a movie, if taking time to watch and listen, especially the commentaries, one will often times find they are not simple illusions they are concepts strongly intended by the makers of the film. There was nothing I didn’t like about this movie; it was as perfect a movie as I have seen in a very long time. It is certainly a movie that entertains but also causes one to think and contemplate on important themes surrounding life.
While Deliver Us From Evil may not be for everyone, it was for me a movie worth owning. It is for a mature audience which appreciates character development, thematic events, quality filmmaking, and good storytelling. If you fit into that audience, this is a must own. If you don’t, at least give it a shot via rental, who knows, you may find yourself liking film the way it should be made, with genius and intelligence.
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