Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Absent One

„The Absent One“ is a Danish thriller based on a novel by Jussi Adler-Olsen, directed by Mikkel Nørgaard and starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Fares Fares as two police detectives who are trying to solve the murder of a young boy and girl, brother and sister, already twenty years past. Their investigations lead them to the alumni of a reputed boarding school, who are now all hugely influential people.

Scandinavian thrillers are often hit-or-miss. They can either be boring, joyless affairs, painstakingly slowly dragging from scene to scene, telling stories that have been told one too many times. Or they can be breathtakingly dark, shocking and disturbing affairs, bleak in their atmosphere and not exactly life-affirming. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” falls into the latter category, as does this film.

Our main characters are a work-a-holic detective, Karl, a man who has nothing but his work, and no joy in life, who neglects his son and spits verbal vitriol at anyone who dares address him, and his partner, Assad, a Muslim in a country that has some seriously racist tendencies. There is also a significant role for a female homeless drifter, whose involvement in the story ultimately leads to its chilling conclusion.

So we can check interesting characters, what about the story? A thriller without a good story doesn’t work, but luckily, this one has got you covered. While the story doesn’t necessarily impress by being unpredictable, it is not at all boring or unoriginal.

And what we see is portrayed in such a way that it grips our attention even if we expected it. This is one of the strength of those northern thrillers, they don’t pull any punches. None of the characters comes out of this with their moral integrity unscratched. Karl’s failures in connecting with his son are handled skilfully, no missed soccer practices in this film. There is a hint that Assad starts a relationship with the wife of one of the suspects. And Kimmie Lassen, the mysterious women, is unhinged and violent.

And that’s just our protagonists… the villains in this movie show such a disregard for life, it creeps you out from the first time you see them in action.

Overall, this is a good thriller, although it is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

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