ANOTHER black, compelling thriller from the Scandi-noir stable is released in UK cinemas this week.
The Keeper of Lost Causes,filmed in Danish with English subtitles, has a great pedigree. It is the first in the ‘Department Q’ series, written by Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen and was adapted by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo screenwriter, Nikolaj Arcel.
The novel, first published in 2007, was translated for English-speaking audiences and reached the New York Times’ bestseller list.
It charts the story of a, predictably, grumpy cop Carl Mørck who is sidelined to file cold cases in Department Q after a fatal shoot-out leaves one partner dead, another paralysed and his colleagues blaming him for their deaths.
To complete the cliché, Mørck has an ex-wife by virtue of being married to the job and is unpopular with the powers that be for his maverick attitude.
Cue cheery sidekick, Swedish actor Fares Fares who plays Mørck’s assistant Assad. Unlike his boss, he sees his new appointment as an opportunity to impress.
Before long the unlikely duo are relaunching the five year-old investigation into the disappearnce of politician Merete Lynggaard, who was last seen falling from a ferry, having left her disabled younger brother on board and is presumed a suicide victim.
The ensuing drama is partly told in layers of flashback and from multiple viewpoints as the detectives begin to scratch Denmark’s polished surface to reveal a dark world of abuse and malice. The film loses some of its suspense in giving away much of what has happened to Merete, played by Sonja Richter, in the intervening years since her disappearance. But, regardless, The Keeper of Lost Causes hurtles on to its dramatic, if not a little formulaic, conclusion.
With several novels in the Department Q series, it seems we may be seeing more of this stereotypical bitter cop and his smiling partner.