The Absent One (2016)

Written for RAF News April 2016

A young woman who has been missing for years may be the only key to solving a case that has long been buried. The Absent One is the second in a series of crime novel adaptations, and another in a long line of brutally uncompromising thrillers, to be exported from Denmark featuring rape, revenge and corruption at the core.

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The double homicide of twin siblings in 1994 resurfaces due to the victims’ father killing himself 20 years later. This is not long after he had warned the new police inspector of Department Q that all is not as it seems. With this death weighing down on his conscience the ever-serious Carl Mørck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) reopens the investigation despite already being swamped in unsolved murders, and despite the fact that someone had already confessed and served time for the murder in question.

The cold cases team consists of Syria born Assad, red-haired Rose – who is more of a silent guiding force than a secretary – and headed by the permanently furrowed brow of Carl Mørck, whose strong features and stoic attitude strangely enough reminds of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is late into the film before we are offered any insight into the character of Mørck, but it is done with great finesse and performed perfectly by Kaas, as we discover his drive to help those who need him.

The teams only lead is a call made by a young and petrified Kimmie Larson (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina) back in 1994, informing them of the murder in darkly cryptic poetry – they must find her and learn all that they can about this dark history, and about the company that she kept at her elite boarding school.

The Absent One is a detective story but told from all perspectives, jumping between the past and the present, which leaves the film intentionally disjointed.With its scarcely lit noir style the story feels familiar and yet these Nordic thrillers still find ways of pushing the envelope and creating uncomfortably dark scenes. These flourishes and the honed, sleek style don’t so much reinvent the genre but they keep it interesting.

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