Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes
Adler-Olsen is a publishing professional who made good. In previous lives, the
bestselling crime novelist had worked as a proofreader, bookseller, printer,
editor, and managing director of a publishing house, but his international fame
rests on the Department Q franchise.
It is literally a basement office devoted closing cold cases. Carl Mørck was
supposed to just sign off on the previous inquiry, in what was intended as a
bureaucrat assignment, but that is not how he rolls. Instead, he will reopen
investigations, showing up his resentful colleagues. He is not politically
savvy, but Mørck and his assistant are the only hope left for a kidnapping
victim in Mikkel Nørgaard’s Department Q:
The Keeper of Lost Causes (trailer here), which opens with the entire Danish crime
trilogy this Friday at the IFC Center.
was never popular on the force, but when his decision to enter a crime scene
before back-up arrived led to the death of one officer and the paralysis of
another, he is shunned like Bill de Blasio. Of course, Mørck’s guilty
conscience will be far worse punishment than his colleague’s silent treatment. Department
Q was a way to sweep Mørck under the rug. Good luck with that.
al-Assad considers Department Q a step up from the motor pool, at least until
he meets Mørck. However, when he lays out the first batch of cases files, the
presumptive suicide of Merete Lynggard catches the anti-social cop’s eye. Supposedly,
the up-and-coming local politician committed suicide on the ferry, leaving her
developmentally disabled brother unattended (permanently), but Mørck never
believed it, for obvious reasons. Aside from hardly seeming suicidal, her body
was never recovered.
Denmark is so cavalier when it misplaces its politicians, it might be time to
consider moving there. Nonetheless, the cold case is not much of a mystery, but
it is an increasingly intense ticking-clock thriller. Nørgaard quickly reveals
Lynggard has been held captive for the last five years in a pressure chamber.
During that time, her captor has slowly increased the pressure. He will soon
reach the absolute limits of human endurance, so Mørck had better get his act
can’t possibly ask for any more angsty brooding than that delivered by Nikolaj
Lie Kaas. Even by the Scandinavian standards set by Kurt Wallander, he is quite
the self-defeating basket case, but he develops some engagingly dysfunctional
chemistry with Fares Fares’ Assad. Sonja Richter is also terrific as Lynggard’s
whose flashback sequences fortunately involve more than the pressure chamber
Structurally, the first installment of the Department Q trilogy is a pretty
standard procedural, but the pressure chamber is an especially nasty plot
device and Mørck is an exceptionally depressive protagonist. It is a solid
policier, but the trilogy actually improves with each film. Recommended as the
start of a binge series, all three Department
Q films open this Friday (6/17) in New York, at the IFC Center (with separate admissions).
Labels: Department Q trilogy, Scandinavian Cinema