The Exception is a Danish psychological thriller based on the book by Christian Jungersen, available from 22nd January on all major UK digital platforms including Curzon Home Cinema and Chili.
The film opens with notes being written in a book the Psychology of Evil 2, a study into the profiling of evil people based on the psychological tests of leading Nazis during the holocaust. The conclusions are unnerving and set the tone for the film.
The story centres around four women working at a Danish centre for Information on Genocide, Iben (Danica Curcic) the author of the book was in Nairobi, as an Africa aid worker and after being taken hostage is still dealing with the trauma. Malene (Amanda Collin), her best friend, is the good looking one dealing with her own debilitating health issues. She is also worried about her job and thinks Anne-Lise (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is after it. Anne-Lise, their new co-worker is getting the cold shoulder treatment for this reason, making life very difficult for her at the office. Then there is Camilla (Lene Maria Christensen), the quiet one who goes along with what Malene and Iben say, except that she has a reoccurring sexual fantasy for her Serbian ex-boyfriend.
The 2 close friends Iben and Malene receive anonymous email threats from an unknown source and as the relationships at work deteriorate, they begin to suspect one and other, despite a long list of more likely suspects already under investigation. With the intrigue and tension mounting all of this is suddenly lost when the girls attempt to make a psychological appraisal of their colleague and accuse her of making the death threats and having similar personality traits to a war criminal (when her only crime so far was a poor dinner party anecdote). But I guess that’s where the message of this film lies, the actions of ordinary people doing harm to each other as their feelings and emotions get the better of them. Here, their determination to find the other one out leads them to do more baffling and illegal things.
The film’s premise based on the history of genocide and the psychology of evil behaviour is cleverly run parallel to the office politics and bullying in the workplace, comparing genocide to the ordinary everyday where all of a sudden everyone is a suspect, capable of selfishness, capable of weakness and capable of what could be considered evil in some shape or form.
Whilst the psychology is interesting and the scenes beautifully shot with some nice interiors and a classical scoring adding suspense to the proceedings, overall the link between the extreme war crimes and the quartet of lovely female office workers becomes a fragmented farce in this ‘who done it?’ Danish caper. The book maybe the better option.
Film: The Exception
Director: Jesper W. Nielsen
Stars: Danica Curcic, Amanda Collin, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Lene Maria Christensen
Genre: Drama / Thriller
Run time: 1hr 55min