The Absent One

 

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The latest Nordic noir is a thriller that ably follows on from The Keeper of Lost Causes.

 
Absent One, The

 

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy was published after his death so when the film adaptations that followed proved hugely popular that led to a search for comparable material from other sources to adapt for the screen. Accordingly in 2013 Mikkel Nørgaard filmed The Keeper of Lost Causes based on the book of that name by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Set in Copenhagen it dealt with the creation of Department Q, a small police unit run, in effect, by two men: Carl Mørck and his Syrian partner Assad. Their task was to assess which old unsolved cases warranted further investigation while dismissing others as old history to be binned. One sensed at the end of that film that there were hopes for a sequel to take advantage of the fact that Adler-Olsen had gone on to write a whole series of tales. That film having been well received, we now have another case for Dept. Q in this new film The Absent One which brings back Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Mørck and Fares Fares as Assad.

 

When reviewing The Keeper of Lost Causes, I praised the efficiency of the filming but regretted that the case featured should be one that grew increasingly unlikely and contrived. That tendency is not entirely avoided here but, happily, it is less extreme and in any case there are plenty of viewers who take the far-fetched in their stride when it comes to thrillers. Certainly anyone who liked The Keeper of Lost Causes should enjoy The Absent One even if they do have to keep on their toes as the narrative cuts back and forth between the new investigation and the original crime twenty years earlier in which a pair of young twins were murdered. In keeping with the tradition set by Larsson, the culprits are influential figures in society and, indeed, former pupils of an exclusive school also attended by a girl who witnessed the crime and will now become a key figure if she can be traced.

 

It is also in keeping with current cinema trends that The Absent One should not hold back in depicting quite strong violence and sexual abuse to the extent that the film has an “18” certificate and it does feel as though this is indulged. But, even if some of the detail is unnecessary, this is still a well-acted piece and the reliable leads are now joined by the able Pilou Asbæk and Danica Curcic who add to the impact. If this is your kind of film, there is no need to hold back from what looks set to be but the second offering in a new cinema franchise since a third film is even now in the making.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Fares Fares, Pilou Asbæk, David Dencik, Danica Curcic, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina.

 

Dir Mikkel Nørgaard, Pro Louise Vesth, Jonas Bagger and Peter Aalbæk Jensen, Screenplay Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg based on the novel Fasandræberne by Jussi Adler-Olsen, Ph Eric Kress, Pro Des Rasmus Thjellesen, Ed Morten Egholm and Frederik Strunk, Music Johan Söderqvist Patrik Andrén and Uno Helmersson, Costumes Stine Thaning.

 

Zentropa Entertainments/TV2 Danmark/ZDF German Television Network/ZDF Enterprises etc.-Picturehouse Entertainment.
120 mins. Denmark/Germany/Sweden/Norway. 2014. Rel: 8 April 2016. Cert. 18.