Before the Frost | Chicago Reader

Before the Frost

Greed vies with parental duty as the key motivating force in this grim drama set in 19th-century rural Denmark. The first act is sluggish, as a poor but stubborn elderly farmer (Jesper Christensen of Spectre and Melancholia) haggles with neighbors over the price of everything from livestock to his comely daughter (Clara Rosager), whom he will not allow to wed unless her marriage contract provides for the rest of the family. Intrigue unfolds when a dashing, prosperous Swedish widower (Magnus Krepper of Becoming Astrid and The Bridge) offers to buy a marshy plot of the farmer's land for a cash crop of sugar beets, the next big thing. The prospect of feeding his family, as well as rising in the eyes of the community, nearly blinds the old man; to the movie's credit, writer-director Michael Noer and his cowriter, Jesper Fink, provide enough plot twists to upend viewer expectations about the nature of evil in this study of human savagery. In Danish and Swedish with subtitles.

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