Above average drama, albeit a relentlessly bleak one.
It's fairly easy to forget that Denmark was part of the Coallition of the Willing that traipsed into Baghdad aways back, but invade they did, even if from an admittedly uninformed British idiot's perspective they formed part of the supporting acts. One of those recently returned from the invading, Lotte (Trine Dyrholm) would seem to have had a tough time of it, at least if her fine line in alcoholism and thousand yard stares are anything to go by.
Some attempt at social reintegration comes at the hands of her father (Finn Nielsen), although it's perhaps not the sort of society you'd want to find yourself in. Pops runs the local haulage firm cum prostitution ring, two commonly mixed industries thanks to generous EU tax incentives. Despite a few misgivings, Lotte is soon given a job as driver for one of the girls, also to be called upon as muscle if things go pear shaped with a client. Oh, and the girl she's driving, Lily (Lorna Brown), happens to be her father's young Nigerian girlfriend as well. Because you wouldn't want things being comfortable now, would you?
So, let's see. Family tensions. Post traumatic stress disorders. Prostitution. Third world poverty. Human trafficking. If only one character had cancer and or Alzheimer's, we'd have had a complete set. The story that unfolds as Lotte and Lily eventually wind up on speaking terms through their work is at the very least interesting, albeit with all of the unremitting bleakness that such a set up would imply.
Little Soldier is a very acceptable drama, if not exactly easy viewing. Quite where this falls on the moral compass is a matter for interpretation and discussion, which is a very nice thing in a cinematic landscape where all too often good and evil have to be so blatantly signposted that it might as well be tattooed onto protagonist's foreheads. Lotte eventually tries to force what she feels is the right course of action on others, which, at a push, mirrors the whole problem with the Iraq situation. I am, perhaps, reading a bit too much into it there.
It's well acted throughout, with an emotive if not exactly subtle performance from Dyrholm in the lead and solid, believable support from Lorna Brown. Calling this movie enjoyable isn't precisely the right term given the relentless bleakness that the subject matter necessarily bestows upon it.
If I'm being picky, and that's sort of why I'm here, then it perhaps suffers from a somewhat predictable final few reels. It signposts fairly clearly how things are going to play out which lends an air of impatient inevitability to the final act, making it seem a shade longer than the hundred minute runtime would have you expecting.
That aside, it's most certainly worth a look if you happen across it. I am, however, perhaps predisposed to liking this. It certainly plays to my weakness for films where there's less of a sense of right and wrong as there is just wrong and a shade of grey less wrong to all of the situations. If you like your drama just as morally muddy as I do then this Little Soldier is a rare treat.
Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 4/5 TippyMarks.
Lorna Brown (Lily)
Finn Nielsen (Far)