is known for its Calvinist piety and sexual permissiveness. It is the former that
offends a particularly nasty serial killer. His murders are designed to take
faith as well as lives. Carl Mørck lost his faith long ago and he doesn’t have
much of a life, so he might be the perfectly flawed cop to stop the cruel
predator in Hans Petter Moland’s A
Question of Faith
which opens as part of the entire Danish crime trilogy this Friday at the IFC Center.
the discovery of a kidnapping victim’s SOS in a bottle washed up on shore is
not a cold case either, but everyone on the force recognizes it requires the
sort of obsessive futility only Mørck can deliver. Unfortunately, he is only a
shadow of his normally gaunt self. He has yet to bounce back from the tragic
events of The Absent One, despite
Assad’s best motivational efforts. Nonetheless, the Department Q coppers start
following up, discovering the writer of the note is mostly likely a missing boy
from a vaguely defined fundamentalist community.
are ordinarily not inclined to talk to cops—a prejudice that works in favor of
the kidnapper-murderer. Yet, through some dogged police work Mørck and Assad
soon uncover his pattern. After months of ingratiating himself with the
community and family, Johannes kidnaps two siblings, puts the family through
the ransom-paying ordeal, only then forcing them to make a Sophie’s Choice.
Inevitably, his crimes leave the parents bereft of faith, as well as a child.
it comes to faith, the atheist Mørck is much closer to Johannes (a
self-identifying Satanist) than the Muslim Assad. However, when the Department
Q team starts closing in on the killer, Johannes decides to test the faith he mistakenly
assumes Mørck holds.
Faith is by far the best
of the Department Q trilogy and one
of the best of the bumper crop of Scandinavia thrillers, easily surpassing the
heavyweight champion Millennium (Girl Who) series. In this case, calling
up Moland, who helmed the nifty, twisty In Order of Disappearance, pays considerable dividends. Faith is the tightest and tensest of the trilogy, but also the smartest
and most mature. It deals with the issue of faith in the face of tribulations
in a respectful manner. Frankly, this is a film the Evangelical community
should embrace, because it clearly rejects the nihilism of Johannes.
genre fans, the Christian-hating Johannes is also the massively evil villain
the franchise has been waiting for. Pål Sverre Hagen (Thor Heyerdahl in Kon-Tiki and the archaeologist father in
Ragnarok) plays spectacularly against
time as the viciously calculating serial killer. He makes the audience pine for
Biblical retribution. Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Fares Fares continue to play off
each other well, while Johanne Louise Schmidt and Søren Pilmark nicely flesh
out the greater police force, as Rose, the Department Q assistant, and their
pushes Mørck to even lower existential depths,
but it pays off viewer investment in both the constituent film and the entire trilogy
quite handsomely. For those who must prioritize their time, it should stand
alone well enough and definitely represents the series high point.
Enthusiastically recommended, Department
Q: A Conspiracy of Faith opens this Friday (6/17) in New York, at the IFC
Center, along with The Absent One and
Keeper of Lost Causes (separate
Labels: Department Q trilogy, Religion in film, Scandinavian Cinema, Serial killer movies