7:30 PM, 29th May, 2015
Danish police inspector Carl Mørck (Kaas) has just been promoted downstairs – literally. He’s head of Department Q, a dusty cellar where unresolved cases have gone to die. The Department consists of just him and one assistant, Assad (Fares), who exemplifies the two virtues Carl lacks: he’s friendly, and never gets angry.
The two are expected to shovel their way through paperwork at the rate of three cases a week, but instead spend all their time worrying away at one case: the unexplained apparent suicide of politician Merete Lynggaard (Richter) five years earlier. Carl thinks she’s been murdered. We know that maybe she’s still being murdered: someone, out for revenge in the cruellest possible way, has captured her and placed her in a combination prison and death trap – a place that makes our skin crawl a little every time we cut back to it. The rather obvious suspense (Will they rescue her in time?) is heightened by the way this cross-cutting is handled: we’re watching stories which start five years apart, which steadily converge – but there are no synchronised clocks, and we don’t know where they meet. For all we know, Merete may already be dead when Carl’s investigation begins.
I think most fans of Scandinavian crime fiction don’t know exactly what it is about it they like; I know I don’t (cold and warm at the same time, is the best I can do). Whatever it is, this highly assured film has plenty of it.
9:13 PM, 29th May, 2015
Nils (Skarsgård) is a snow plough operator in the beautiful but harsh countryside of Norway. He’s a model citizen in every way, until his son dies at the hands of a drug gang. Suddenly he turns into a bloodthirsty vigilante hell bent on revenge.
This may sound like some Dirty Harry knock-off, but it is much more in the dark-humour vein of the Coen Brothers (think along the lines of Fargo). It contains a vegan drug lord, Serbian gangsters playing snow games, and Hitler himself, Bruno Ganz, as a veteran mobster, amongst its many quirky characters. (The actual title of the film, Kraftidioten, has been translated as The Prize Idiot in some countries.) It also has an underlying serious side about the pointlessness of revenge, but don’t worry, it never gets overly bogged down on the message (one of the key elements of the film involves regular title cards, and this simultaneously provides a morbid reflection and one of the funniest ongoing gags of the movie).
This played at last year’s Canberra International Film Festival in the Freaky Fridays section, dedicated to darkly comic tales and quirky horror tomes. It was one of the most popular of the films presented and, if this all sounds like your type of thing, I’d urge you to come along and see this violent, hilarious and compassionate film.