Saturday, February 21

Double Feature: The Keeper of Lost Causes / The Absent One

As of writing, I realized the following things: 1. I have been writing double feature reviews for a year. 2. They didn’t serve the purpose of being condensed reviews. Rather they are still very lengthy - brevity isn’t my strongest suit. As a “celebration” of this one year feature (this is the only ‘feature’ I’ve tried in my blog that lasted this long), I decided to tribute it to my love of reading. The movies I picked for this feature are both book adaptations, written by Jussi Adler-Olsen. I have read both books, and immediately watched the adaptations, so it’s likely that my thoughts on the book carry over the adaptations.

The Keeper of Lost Causes

The movie greets us with a incident that leaves one dead, the other paralyzed, and the lead character Carl Morck dumped into a new department because nobody in homicide wanted to work with him. All he had to do was to go over old case files, write a two-page report, and move on. He was also given an assistant, Assad to speed up the process. In his new department, he gets hold of the missing persons case of Merete Lynggaard, a case he wanted to handle beforehand, but now had the ability to - so he reopened the case. The movie takes us into the world of finding out what happened to Merete, from the moment she was declared missing to five years later, where Carl and Assad resumed investigation. 

There were noticeable changes between the movie and the book, which I understand because both are different mediums. The screenwriter and director didn’t want to linger on details, encompassing a 500-page book into a 90 minute screening. Changes were done for creative reasons, but I felt that the characterization suffered because of that shift. It doesn’t take away much from the film, but the plight of the characters certainly become different when they’re pushed into a new role. The movie however, used brevity to their advantage because it was able to lead the whole plot to where it wanted to go without compromising much of the content. It stripped of what was unnecessary and kept to the essentials of the story.

Since there was a characterization shift, the lead actors Nicolaj Lie Kaas and Fares Fares were not whom I imagined the lead characters to be. Nonetheless, both actors fit snugly into their role, with each person balancing out the other. Carl was quite morose and contemplative, while Assad was aggressive and curious. It was obvious that their styles were going to clash, but the writing and the actors allowed it to work well. There wasn't much character development between the two of them, as the writing focused more on the case. 

The tone of the movie was lighter than I expected, and the chilling atmosphere complimented the scenery, as well as the mood of the movie. If I didn’t read the book beforehand (or watched the movie immediately afterwards), I wouldn’t be nitpicking the details. It could have been longer, as to build more suspense, especially with the array of characters that could have been explored, so the reveal would have been more surprising. 


Final Word: Maybe I could have enjoyed it more if I didn’t read the book before-hand. 

Cast: Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Per Scheel Krüger, Troels Lyby
Director: Mikkel Nørgaard
Year: 2013




The Absent One

A follow up to The Keeper of Lost Causes, this movie finds Assad and Carl with a new case. A man that approached Carl on the night of office festivities was found dead the next day. It was found out that he was the father of two children, Thomas and Marie, and has been writing to Carl about reopening the case. Despite a verdict being given to the murder of the twins, Carl deemed it odd because the suspect barely had any money and yet was able to secure a lawyer who only works for the rich and famous. Thus, the launch of the investigation and the introduction of the major players at hand. 

The case revolved around two prominent figures in society, Ditlev Pram and Ulrik Dybbol, as well as a missing person, Kimmie Lassen. She became the key witness to the murder (and the succeeding cases that the dead man had managed to unearth), as she was the one who called the police regarding the murder. Unlike its predecessor, The Absent One doesn’t have that big air of mystery - rather everything was in place and all what’s to transpire is to how to piece the puzzle. There were no surprises, but the movie was able to give a back story on the events that transpired between the lives of the youngsters twenty years back, and the case Carl and Assad were working on. 

There wasn’t much significant changes in this one either, but beyond the case, it focused solely on Carl’s personal woes. It touched on his home life, and there had seemed to be a bigger character shift in his personality compared to the first movie. He’s more brash and pensive, and Assad (and Fares Fares for that matter) took a step back, playing a supporting role instead of a co-lead to Nicolaj Lie Kaas. 

The movie was a more structured entity compared to its predecessor. Its screen time allowed the development of events that explored how the characters came to be. There’s certainly a lot more graphic scenes in this one, and yet it carries a similar tone to its predecessor, albeit darker in mood. There were certainly more performances involved. Two that stood out were Pilou Asbaek and Sarah Sofie Boussnina, who played adult Ditlev and young Kimmie respectively. Both were good in their roles, and stole their respective scenes. The third Jussi Adler-Olsen book is currently in adaptation, so I’m very excited to see how it all turns out.



Final Word: It’s a more organized and thrilling sequel.

Cast: Fares Fares, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Pilou Asbæk
Director: Mikkel Nørgaard
Year: 2014

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