Based on the international bestselling series by Jussi Adler-Olsen – The Keeper of Lost Causes is a captivating Danish thriller that’s tastefully crafted and makes for an enjoyable and satisfying film. Directed by Mikkel Norgaard and adapted by Nikolaj Arcel (screenwriter of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), the film is quite predictable but stands up as an entertaining Scandinavian drama.
The film opens with a homicide bust gone disastrously wrong. After being shot, Inspector Carl Morck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his partner both lie on the ground watching each other bleed in silence. The result of that day is devastating and as we fast track to present day we discover that Carl has lost both his partners, one is left paralyzed and the other is dead. As he tries to move forward and get back to work, his boss Jacobson (Soren Pilmark) informs Carl no one wants to partner with him. Jacobson sends him to Department Q in the basement of police headquarters, where he and his assistant Assad (Fares Fares) are assigned to file the paperwork of cold cases.
Instead of doing what they’re told, Carl and Assad reopen their first cold case and launch into a full investigation. They begin questioning the case of missing politician, Merete Lynggaard (Sonja Richter) and her apparent suicide that left her mentally disabled younger brother Uffe (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) behind on his own. As their search starts, we are introduced to Merete five years earlier where she’s balancing a successful career and taking care of Uffe, before she suddenly disappears.
The premise and lead character are unfortunately nothing that we haven’t seen before. There’s a resemblance to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film with it’s moodiness and tone, and a down-in-the-dumps inspector defying his boss – is just a little too familiar. But Keepers redeeming feature is its running parallels that switch between the characters point of views. We have Carl and Assad working to uncover the truth and then we have the view point of Merete where we discover how the crime unfolds. The contrasts between the two perspectives cleverly creates tension as does the dance of going between past and present. As Carl and Assad race against time, the two realities meet for a dramatic and suspenseful finale.
Carl may be a slightly obvious character, but Lie Kaasis performance is steady, consistent and successfully delivers an unapologetic miserable person. His silent-but-deadly glances hit the right spots beautifully as does his lines that drip with delectable sarcasm – even more so in opposition of Assad’s spiritually warm and positive nature (which is also well played by Fares). The relationship between Carl and Assad is another very likable aspect of the film as they are quite comedic at times. By the end, I’m interested to see how they progress after finding their stride as they will probably push and risk more together in the next installment.
As a whole, The Keeper of Lost Causes is elegantly made and although I had guessed the ending (you will too, I promise) I was sitting with sweaty palms in it’s final act. It’s a nice first film to set up the series, I have no doubt the franchise will develop from the film’s success in Denmark and the popularity of the novels. When the sequel does come out, I’ll look forward to catching up with Carl and Assad and their next cold case.
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