Nikolaj Lie Kaas plays Carl Mørck, a downbeat, rough around the edges cop who is assigned to classifying cold cases having been shot on a previous investigation. Paired with his new assistant Assad (Fares Fares), the beleaguered Mørck becomes instantly intrigued by one case in particular, deciding to re-open it in spite of his boss’s strict instructions not to. Mørck is adamant however, that the missing victim Merete (Sonja Richter) is still alive, and so delves into deep, dark territory to uncover the truth once and for all.
As with any mystery thriller of this ilk, the picture is entirely reliant on the inevitable, big reveal. However the audience are frustratingly fed too much information along the way, as brief snippets allow for us to piece this story together with a little too much ease, thus devaluing the impact of the grand finale – which is therefore somewhat underwhelming and anticlimactic. That being said, it’s interesting to know from the offset that Merete is safe. While taking away an element of surprise from the conclusion, it allows the viewer a degree of power, an insight nobody else has – enhancing the notion that the audience are in a privileged, omniscient place.
Mørck is a beguiling lead, never giving anything away, as an elusive figure who keeps his cards close to his chest. Though such character traits enhance the mysterious aspects of the narrative, conversely, he’s something of a challenge to emotionally invest in, which proves to be detrimental to the overall tale. It’s a brilliantly conventional creation though, as the archetypal, worn-out detective with a point to prove, working on a case everybody thinks is dead. Complete with stubble and a slow-burning cigarette almost constantly visible in the corner of his mouth. Though a cliché of sorts, often with this genre, stereotypes can be comforting, especially when implemented so affectionately, and this revels in its traditional approach.
There’s a wickedly dark, gritty tone to this picture, that’s both bleak and uncompromising. There are some scenes that are difficult to watch – with a certain pulling out of teeth sequence that instantly springs to mind. Ultimately, The Keeper of Lost Causes is yet another example of fine cinema to come out of Scandinavia at present, and while not quite as triumphant as fellow thrillers such as Jackpot and Headhunters – it remains an accomplished, commendable offering.