Originally published on So So Gay on 11 September 2014.
Having recently been named Citizen of the Year, Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgård) should be on top of the world; instead, his world falls apart when he subsequently finds out his son has been murdered. Brought back from the brink of suicide by the revelation that his son was killed for a crime he didn’t commit, Nils becomes hellbent on revenge and goes after the man responsible – an unhinged vegan gangster called The Count (Pål Sverre Hagen) – but inadvertently starts a gang warfare and manages to get caught in the crossfire in the process.
With a cast that includes the aforementioned Skarsgård (Thor), Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (Borgen) and Bruno Ganz (Downfall), there’s certainly a lot of acting talent bringing Hans Petter Moland noir-ish action film to life, which tries to style itself along the lines of Quentin Tarantino’s work, but the finesse isn’t quite there. While it occasionally gets the balance right, the tone isn’t handled deftly enough in other places. One minute, In Order of Disappearance is being all serious over Dickman’s loss and vendetta – certainly the opening act of the film feels like a different movie to what it becomes later on – the next, there are comical asides between characters taking it more into farcical territory. This latter facet is certainly where the film shines brightest, however.
Pål Sverre Hagen as the maniacal and slightly cartoonish villain of the piece deserves particular mention here, for making this film as captivating as it is. His scenes with Sørensen, who plays The Count’s wife, Marit, are excellent, with Sørensen being the cool and dismissive foil to his barely-contained bag of crazy. Skarsgård is ever reliable, though his character going from unassuming pillar of the community to killing machine is quite far-fetched, and is all the more reason In Order of Disappearance should have ditched its more serious moments and gone for full-blown farce. Less moping and pathos and more quips with slapstick deaths.
This slightly uneven tone aside, the film is two hours of anyone’s time well spent. The bright and crisp snowy Norwegian landscape feels like the perfect setting for this kind of film – certainly nature’s brilliant white is the perfect backdrop for this film’s healthy quotient of blood splatter. With enough humour and acting talent to keep the momentum going, In Order of Disappearance is an enjoyable Nordic noir film that offers another reminder that we shouldn’t forget to look beyond Hollywood for interesting and high quality films.
In Order of Disappearance is in cinemas from Friday 12 September. Featured images courtesy of Metrodome Distribution.