The Keeper of Lost Causes

Kvinden i buret / Denmark / 2013 / dir. Mikkel Nørgaard / 97 mins / crime & thriller / Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Per Scheel Krüger & Troels Lyby

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret) had quite a difficult task before it has been released. During the Scandinavian crime fiction occupation around the world, it was very hard indeed to be somehow original when The Killing, The Bridge and The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo already gained millions of fans whose expectations on a new crime series were high. 

Directed by Mikkel Nørgaard (Klovn, Borgen) with a writer Nikolaj Arcel (The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, A Royal Affair) this film promised to be made with professionals who know about international success first-hand. Also, getting for the lead role Nikolaj Lie Kaas, who’s been one of the most known Danish actors helped the new series become recognizable. Yet, the film itself looks more as an introduction, a pilot episode which is aimed to attract mainly those who didn’t have an opportunity to get deeply involved with the addiction called ‘Scandinavian crime cinema”. 

Police detective Carl Morck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is being transferred to the department “Q” after the accident he caused, where one of his partners was killed and the other one paralyzed. His new duty is to sort old cases, not to solve them – just do the paperwork. His new assistant Assad (Fares Fares) doesn’t really mind a job like that, as he, unlike Morck, has been “promoted” to get this kind of work. However, Morck decides to investigate almost the first case he’s found. Five years ago a young politician Merete Lynggaard (Sonja Richter) mysteriously disappeared on a boat whilst travelling with her young brother Uffe (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard), who had mental problems. Morck finds certain omissions in this case and starts to dig into something, that has been almost forgotten. Soon after grim details start to reveal themselves. 

As the beginning of film adaptation of bestselling novels by Jussi Adler-Olsen, this movie doesn’t have the opportunity to pass the investigation itself on a deep level. The intrigue can be revealed by the viewer who is familiar with a detective narration in the middle of the film. It seems like authors did not really have time to go into details and let their characters take the misleading route and make any mistakes. Maybe it happened due to the time limits (movie’s runtime is just over 90 min), or more likely this just allowed to get the film to act as a very quick introduction to the genre. 

Overall, the first film of the upcoming series look promising. Recently, the trailer for the second part has been released and it looks much more tense and dark than the first one. Add here the likeable characters who really create the emotional contact with the viewer and you get quite an interesting example of concentrated Scandinavian crime thriller for those, who did not really have time to read the books or watch 20 hour-long episodes of The Killing.

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.