Star – Nikolaj Lie Kaas
Genre – World Cinema > Crime
Run Time – 96minutes
Certificate – 15
Country – Denmark
Awards – Nominations & Wins
Amazon – £10 DVD £19.98Blue Ray
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‘95% of women are murdered by a loved one or someone they rejected’
So what is it with women and crime fiction and drama and should that worry men? Do they secretly want to dissolve us in an acid bath we wonder? They read and watch a hell of a lot more crime stuff these days than they do romantic fiction, 80% of all crime fiction read by women and the female writers churning out the most violent and eye-catching, rather surprisingly. Sadly with those very same female writers we still have the sadistic side that women are brutally murdered by men in most of these series. The terrestrial TV stations show tons of it now and the advertisers have those singletons and housewives in their thrall at the ad breaks. The poor old BBC, of course, are at risk of losing their charter if they don’t show more diversity in their schedules and so we have a role reversal from the 1970s of black guys no longer playing the villains but now playing most of the senior cops with gay and lesbian sidekicks galore. But Scando crime dramas have really helped in that diversity push and BBC4 are awash with them to hit those quotas. They really have took the genre on after the CSI series in American perked interest in smart crime dramas at the end of the last century, the Nordic ones always intelligent, moody and engaging, and occasionally sadistic, the important bit.
• Nikolaj Lie Kaas - Carl Mørck
• Fares Fares - Assad
• Sonja Richter - Merete Lynggaard
• Mikkel Følsgaard - Uffe Lynggaard
• Søren Pilmark - Marcus Jacobsen
• Troels Lyby - Hardy Henningsen
• Patricia Schumann (da) - Søs Norup
• Eric Ericson - Johan Lundquist
After some gung ho policing, square-jawed and handsome Danish detective Carl Mørck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is demoted to a desk job after two of his colleagues end up in hospital and another one dead. Whether he likes it or not, he is tasked with setting up Department Q, a dead-end desk job that requires him to spend the next few years hidden away in a dusty basement with a new partner, Sergeant Assad (Fares Fares), tying up the loose ends on old cases. The two are instructed to close three cases per week to improve the stations clear up rate. Assad is quite keen on the job and sees it as promotion whereas stuck in his ways and edgy Mørck dislikes it as much as he does Assad and soon on the bottle.
Both are mavericks and not about to do what they are told and soon spending most of the set up budget investigating an unsolved disappearance of a woman, Merete Lynggaard (Sonja Richter), a Danish politician presumed dead from suicide, believed to have fallen from a ferry five years previously. Mørck is determined to prove there is more to it and delves into a murky case of abuse, murder and kidnapping. Her autistic son Uffe (Mikkel Følsgaard) was on board the boat when she went missing and seems to have secrets buried in his memory; Assad determined to gently extract a clue from a man that lives mute and traumatized in a care home.
Department Q has yet to file its weekly quota and station Chief Captain Hardy Henningsen (Troels Lyby) not happy the boys not doing what they are told and spending all that money. But they are getting closer and a trip to Sweden reveals the big clue and the first suspect, Marcus Jacobsen (Søren Pilmark), who was seen at her final political conference and speech, which may suggest she was not murdered and still alive somewhere. But Department Q boys are about to be shut down for their insolence and the boys could lose their badges and guns as the clock ticks.
Carl Mørck: ‘Do me a favour... if I get murdered... don't investigate my case’
I quite enjoyed this and although it flirts with Scando crime norms and cop cliché it’s still good tense fun. Wobbly cameras and darkly lit sets and locations add to the tension and unrealistic cop bosses expectantly add unrealism to the story. The girls will endure as the misunderstood hero is handsome and moody with a five o’clock shadow and with an atmospheric soundtrack, enough sporadic action and tongue-in-cheek humor for extra filling this entertains on many levels. Its generally good subtitle stuff in the genre that arrives from Scandinavia and this no different. I reckon I have watched at least 25 of these over the decades and yet to be disappointed.
With both Kaas and Richter alumni of the original series of the adored Danish crime TV series ‘The Killing (they played husband and wife), and Fares a star of the popular Swedish ‘Easy Money’ crime trilogy, this has all the ingredients to attract that BBC4/ Sky Arts audience that love this lugubrious scando crime subtitled stuff so much. It’s not quite the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but good stuff all the same.
The relationship between cops Mørck and Muslim Assad is a sufficient variation of the 'cop buddies' partnership to make it feel new and contemporary and always the hint of racism between them that festers in that part of the world being populated by Islam. The antihero cop, as per usual, is silent and brooding and the token blonde blue-eyed attractive women in distress suitably driving the pace and story to keep you engaged and tense until the worthy ending. This is mystery to be unpicked although not one that offers clues to be worked out by the viewer. Some would say it’s a silly ending but I though it was suitably smart and feasible and not something I have seen before. I would definitely give it a go and certainly a film that has come about to set up a cracking TV series over there. I’m told it’s based on a book over there so sure more to follow.
Imdb.com – 7.2/10.0 (14,256votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 71% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 62% critic’s approval
-Making of –
Behind the scenes with cast & crew. It’s in subtitles.
Quite a few
Footage from the film premier and talking head interviews on stage after the film.
The Guardian –‘Like the first episode of a finely crafted TV series you won't want to miss, this sharply involving Danish thriller introduces us to the mystery-solving duo of Department Q’.
The Independent-‘It sleepwalks through an icky narrative that could have been lifted from any slick and soulless television crime drama’.
The NY Post-‘Yet another example of fine cinema to come out of Scandinavia and while not quite as triumphant as fellow thrillers it remains an accomplished, commendable offering’.
The Melbourne Age –‘The climax is ultimately predictable, but Nørgaard and writer Nikolaj Arcel do manage to ratchet up some tension in the final third’.
Sydney morning Herald –‘On a strictly mechanical level, it all works and if you can adapt to its glum brand of wit, you can extract a few laughs from it’.
Little White Lies –‘This convoluted and unremarkable Scandi thriller at least boasts an endearingly taciturn lead in Nikolaj Lie Kaa’s.
Timeout –‘The usual Nordic Noir garnishings of furrowed seriousness, chilly visuals and grim subject matter add a dash of flavour to this plodding crime procedural but still fail to enliven it’
The Mail –‘Grim treat, mining suspense and urgency from intensely plotted dual timelines of brutal criminality. A must for fans of rumpled, cynical, bitter detectives’.