The Keeper of Lost Causes takes the successful Nordic noir formula to the big screen where the wide sweeping grey skies and vast bare landscapes set the scene for another gripping crime thriller. As fans of Danish cinema and TV crime series would expect (and director Mikkel Norgaard also directed Borgen), the plot is clever and complex, the tension unnerving and the scenes of violence uncompromising.
After a shoot-out that left one officer dead, one paralysed and Inspector Carl Morck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas from the Killing) injured, Morck is relegated to a basement office to file away cold cases. He becomes curious about the circumstances of the death of a female politician, Merete Lynngard who disappeared on a car ferry five years earlier and was presumed to have committed suicide. Unconvinced, Morck disobeys his superior to pursue the case, and together with his side-kick, Assad (played by Fares Fares) he begins a hunt for clues which quickly turns into a race against time.
The film is cleverly structured to tell the parallel story of Merete, set in a different timeline but sewn seamlessly into the central narrative. In this story there are no wide open spaces but only an unbearably intense airless claustrophobia. The police search is lightened by the buddy relationship that grows between the unsmiling, guilt-wracked Morck and the laid-back Assad, however unlikely a friendship that may be. But in Merete’s story there is only an unseen sadist and ever more disturbing and calculated ways of inflicting suffering. When the perpetrator is a man and the victim a woman, it’s all the more unsettling.
Based on the international best-seller, The Keeper of Lost Causes is edge of the seat stuff, grimly compelling and brilliantly atmospheric.