There are some films which have an ability to fool you the first time. Throughout the viewing experience and during a reflection time afterwards, I could almost believe The Keeper of Lost Causes was something original. However, once I looked a bit closer I saw it was a psychological crime thriller which beat the same path as its predecessors. Despite my comments, I can say I liked the journey.
Carl Morck is assigned to the newly established Department Q after failing to obey order to wait for backup on an undercover mission. In Department Q there is only Morck and his assistant Assad. Both men are under clear instruction to close off two to three cases a week, filing a two page report for each one.
Very little time passes before the cold case of politician Merete Lynggaard appears. From then on, Morck becomes obsessed and Assad follows suit. They perfectly balance each other. One is stubbornly determined while the other is compassionate and shrewd.
Crosscut editing slowly weaves in Merete’s back story and provides the events leading up to her disappearance, which was originally suspected to be suicide. We are introduced to Uffe, her brain damaged brother who is a silent witness to the kidnapping that occured during their trip on the Ferry. A cut occurs, showing a forsaken pressure chamber used by a violent psychopath, but you need to see the film to find out who is inside it!
Director Mikkel Norgaard establishes an environment full of suspense. In scene after scene, we’re fed information in small drips. The viewer like the third detective; it is our job to sift through all the information, to establish what has happened.
True to many a thriller, the build up is far more nerve-wracking than the discovery of why all of this is happening. Hearing why poor old Merete is held captive for years seemed like one of those “Oh come on, really?” moments.
In addition, one of my gripes with this film is that everything is too good to be true. Things just lined up correctly, with many “aha” moments of discovery. The sheer luck which Morck and Assad enjoy with Uffe, is too good to be true. It seems as odds with what one nurse said: “It takes him a while to recognise new voices.”
Despite the film’s acknowledged shortcomings, it does enough to scrape through with a pass mark. The appearance of the villain gave me the chills – not so much the personality itself, but the fact that it was nothing more than a frail, broken soul. I do find myself applauding the Danes for their ability to reveal how far Scandinavia is from a Utopia. It suffers similar problems to any other “civilised” society.