The Exception is a Danish psychological thriller, based on the best seller by Christian Jungersen. It deals with four women who work for a Copenhagen based Non-Governmental Organisation investigating human rights and crimes against humanity. When two of these women receive death threats, they begin to suspect a Serbian war criminal who they have been researching, before eventually becoming suspicious of each other.
When we first meet the four women at their place of work, there are already tensions brewing between them, with each one dealing with their own personal issues. Librarian Anne-Lise (Sidse Babett Knudsen – Westworld) works in her own office, separate from the other three, who all work together in a more open-plan setting. Anne-Lise feels alienated from the others, certain they dislike her and that they deliberately exclude her from their conversations. Her attempts to integrate with the others and form relationships with them repeatedly fall flat and we can tell from conversations with her husband and friends that it is having an effect on her. Iben (Daniela Curcic), who recently escaped captivity while working in Kenya, now suffers from PTSD, which sees her experiencing terrifying recurring visions of her gun-wielding young captor. Malene (Amanda Collin – Raised By Wolves) suffers from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and is also dealing with a relationship breakdown. Camilla (Lene Maria Christensen) initially appears to be the more problem-free of them all, until we learn of her recent affair with a Serbian soldier!
Accusations of workplace bullying from Anne-Lise see the four regularly meeting up with manager Paul (Olaf Johannessen) as he tries to calm and resolve the tensions between the team. Something which escalates further when Malene and Iben both receive threatening emails from an anonymous source and when the IT specialist who has discovered the sender of the emails suffers a fatal fall.
Suspicions are initially directed at Anne-Lise, but as the story deals out its numerous twists and turns, and narrative perspective shifts between each of the troubled women, it really could be anyone. Iben becomes increasingly unstable with her PTSD and there is also a love rivalry brewing between her and Malene. Not to mention Camilla and her affair with the war criminal who has recently been the subject of investigations by the team. Occasional slideshows of photographs and literary quotes remind us of genocidal acts from history and the horror that humans are capable of, and it all feels very tense and unsettling at times.
The depiction of PTSD and workplace bullying are handled effectively and tastefully and, for the most part, The Exception is a competent thriller that really keeps you on your toes. At times it does all get a little nonsensical, particularly in the final stages of the movie, but the strong performances by the four lead women shine through and help to keep things on track.
The Exception will be released across all major UK Digital Platforms on 22nd January including iTunes, AppleTV, Sky Store, Google Play, Amazon, Virgin, Curzon Home Cinema & Chili (& BT on rental only from 1st Feb)
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