Sidse Babett Knudsen impressive in “Sons”, the oppressive thriller by Gustav Möller

The Danish director returns with a powerful prison film that explores revenge, forgiveness and redemption. “Sons” is a stifling journey, a physical film.

France Télévisions – Culture Editorial


Reading time: 2 min

Actress Sidse Babett Knudsen in the film "Sounds" by Gustav Möller.  (THE LOSANGE FILMS)

First, kindness, humanity. Eva, played by Sidse Babett Knudsen, all inwardness, has an almost maternal behavior with the prisoners. Prison guard, she ensures the well-being of the people in her charge. As if they were his own children. Then, she transforms into a ball of violence, cold with determination. She asks her superiors for a transfer to the most violent unit in the prison. For what ? She recognizes Mikkel, a man from her past. Eva then becomes another person. Goodness disappears to give way to relentless and even sadistic revenge.

After The Guilty, Gustav Möller, who wrote the screenplay for Sidse Babett Knudsen, locks us in a place that humanity seems to have deserted with Sounds, selected in the New Blood category at the 4th Reims Police Film Festival. A physical, claustrophobic, but also psychological confinement.

Prison, life and death

The Danish director filmed on natural locations in Vridsløselille, a prison near Copenhagen that has been disused since 2018. The dilapidation of the premises contributes to making the atmosphere more stifling. Eva therefore undergoes a metamorphosis upon the arrival of Mikkel, her son’s murderer. In contact with her, she will be different. And it is Gustav Möller’s strength to capture all the nuances of the wounded mother’s journey.

The director explores revenge, forgiveness and redemption. Does a convicted person have the right to a second chance? “Each prison holds up a mirror to the society that built it. I have the feeling that this is the case in Denmark and in most European countries for that matter… We still have not decided on the model of prisons that we want to put in place and, by extension, on our model of society. Are we rational or emotional beings? Do we believe in forgiveness and reintegration? Or do we prefer revenge and punishment? Currently, the judicial system tries to accommodate both approaches, even though they are in complete contradiction.” notes Gustav Möller.

Beyond the prison system, the director especially strived to show the heartbreaks of a mother, powerful in her fragility, who loses her footing and who no longer identifies with who she has become. Sidse Babett Knudsen is impressive in her interpretation. With an economy of gestures and expressions, she manages to convey all the complexity of her tortured character.

One of the strongest scenes in the film, and there are several, is undoubtedly the one which brings Eva, Mikkel and her mother together around a table during the prisoner’s family outing. Locked up as in a painting, all prisoners of their suffering, they cannot free themselves from the past, nor communicate. Sounds, a powerful, physical film about impossible mourning and the inevitable fight, sometimes against oneself, for forgiveness and freedom.

Movie poster

The sheet

Gender : Thriller, Drama
Director: Gustav Möller
Actors: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Sebastian Bull Sarning, Dar Salim
Country : Denmark/Sweden
Duration: 1h40
Exit : July 10, 2024
Distributor: Les films du Losange
Synopsis: Eva, an exemplary prison guard, faces a real dilemma when a young man from her past is transferred to the prison where she works. Without revealing her secret, Eva requests a transfer to the young man’s unit, renowned as the most violent in the prison.

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