This great movie finds Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen), a Dane who has devoted his adult years to running an orphanage in India, coming home to Copenhagen for the wedding of a billionaire philanthropist’s daughter. The billionaire, Jørgen (Rolf Lassgård), has a financial gift and wants Jacob to be his guest at the festivities as well. (We recognize Lassgård from the excellent “Under the Sun.”) This is all a set-up, because Jørgen knows he’s dying and Jacob is really the father of the bride, Anna (Stine Fischer Christensen) due to a long-ago relationship. He drafts a contract that will generously fund the orphanage but requires Jacob to stay in Denmark and manage the foundation with his own daughter. In fact, it’s Jørgen’s hope that Jacob will eventually relieve Helene (Sidse Babett Knudsen) of her widowhood.
It’s a nice plan, but Jacob is overwhelmed to learn he has a daughter and is being primed for a new life that he hasn’t designed. He calls Jørgen a fat pig and runs away, but Jørgen chases quite strongly, for a fat pig who’s dying, and Jacob is soon stunned to find out the motivation for all this drama. He accedes to Jørgen’s plan. At the end he makes his return to the orphanage, only for a week’s time, and finds he’s not as badly needed there as he might have thought: life goes on.
By this bare description, the film sounds quite sudsy, but the gleam in Jørgen’s eyes and Jacob’s gradual realizations are what make this show tick, along with the supporting cast and fascinating details of character. The set design kicks in a lot, too. We meant to see this when it was here a year ago, but as now, it was too cold and snowy to go out. Too bad for the missed opportunity to see on the big screen the product of all these fine artists.