Beware of Children [Barn] —Scandinavian Film Festival 2021

Jamie, a close friend of Lykke (Ella Overbye), suffers a serious injury on the sports oval incurred while Lykke is “messing around” with him.  Jamie’s single father, Per Erik (Thorbjørn Harr), is beside himself with grief when Jamie dies.  Lykke’s parents, Sigurd (Hans Olav Brenner) and Eva (Andrea Bræin Hovig) are at a loss to know what to believe and what to do.  But when they decide to give Per Erik time to grieve before contacting him, he takes affront at their apparent lack of care and becomes vengeful.  The person essential to keep Per Erik on an even keel is his secret lover, Lykke’s school principal, Liv (Henriette Steenstrup), who has a fine line to tread in respecting everybody’s needs, including that of the mortified Lykke, who has lost her best friend and knows that she is to blame, and Liv’s brother, Anders (Jan Gunna Røise), the teacher on playground duty at the time of incident.

In mixing these relationships together, writer and director Dag Johan Haugerud has created in Beware of Children a film that offers touching insights into the experiences of those most directly affected by such a tragedy, the ways in which it can tear at individuals and their community, and into the understandable uncertainty and anxiety that compound the collective grief at the sudden truncation of a life of promise.

Its emotional elements nicely balanced with the mystery of just how and why Jamie died and considerations of ethics and law, Beware of Children ties up the loose ends but still leaves one to ponder the differences in values and perceptions between ordinary decent people.  Beautifully constrained performances all round, and riveting acting by Thorbjørn Harr as Jamie’s devastated father, Per Erik, and Henriette Steenstrup as his lover, Liv, make this inherently interesting story compelling viewing.


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