The Keeper of Lost Causes

Directed by Mikkel Nørgaard

Starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Fares Fares, Sonja Richter
In UK Cinemas August 29th, 2014

by Charlie Cauchi

Meet Carl (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), a short-tempered, arrogant and troubled police inspector recently relegated to the basement to close cold cases in newly formed Department Q (so new in fact, that the department placard is a hastily scrawled on a post-it note). A dramatic incident while on duty, coupled with a recent split with his partner, has left our central protagonist rather worse for wear. But thanks to a complex investigation into the mysterious disappearance of Merete Lynggaard (Sonja Richter) and an unlikely coupling with a new assistant, Carl is soon able to regain a sense of perspective.

Based on the first in a series of best-selling novels by Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen, The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret) was adapted for the cinema in 2012 by Danish production company Zentropa. Directed by award-winning Finn Aku Louhimies, The Keeper of Lost Causes is in many respects a rather conventional ‘Scandicrime’ drama. Violent, grim and shot in the customary grey pallet associated with the Nordic Noir genre, the film is not dissimilar to many of the other Scandinavian titles that have become popular since The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Niels Arden Oplev ) appeared on international screens in 2009.

This is not to say that the film is devoid of any originality. Indeed, The Keeper of Lost Causes is more nuanced than most films of this ilk. The parallel narratives that make up film keep the audience guessing until the very end. While Carl’s pairing with Assad (Fares Fared), a Muslim detective who is the only other police officer to work within Department Q, does raise some interesting questions about the hostility to race in Nordic cultures. Having said that however, more could have been done to make Assad less one-dimensional. For those of you out there who are a little squeamish, be warned, there are some hellish moments, mainly involving teeth and pliers!

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