In order of Disappearance – Review by Frank L
Director: Hans Petter Moland
Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson
Stars: Stellan Skarsgård, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Kristofer Hivju |
White is everywhere. The opening scene of the plough spewing out plumes of white powder as it cuts its way through the snow, followed by the razor blade making a path through the soft white shaving foam on the face of Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgard) and then his wife ironing a white detachable collar for his shirt as he is going to be acclaimed as “citizen of the year” at a public ceremony. But white powder is not only snow or shaving foam it is also the narcotic cocaine and the control of the supply of cocaine in this remote Norwegian town is the commerce which drives the plot. Unfortunately for Dickman and his wife their only son works in the airport where the drugs arrive. His work mate steals a bundle of cocaine belonging to an indigenous Norwegian drugs cartel who have divided the surrounding area into separate spheres of control with a Romanian drugs gang. The Norwegian gang kidnap Dickman’s son along with his friend and kill him by lethal injection, which makes it look as if he died from an overdose. The authorities are not interested in the death of his son as they believe he was just another junkie. Dickman cannot accept this verdict though. He is on the verge of suicide when he strikes lucky in his own investigation, when he extracts a clue as to the identity of his son’s murderers. This enables him to follow a path which leads him ever closer to the Count (Pal Sverre Hagen), the leader of the Norwegian drug gang. He in turn has “offended” Papa (Bruno Ganz) the leader of the Romanian drug gang. There is a full scale war between the Count and Papa in which Dickman inevitably becomes involved as he edges ever closer to the Count the true murderer of his son.
Given the personalities of the Count and Papa needless to say there is a steady drip of killings, the first is Dickman’s son, and as each death occurs the name of the character and actor are flashed up on the screen with the title overhead “In order of disappearance”. It is a penetrating idea which adds to the tension as Dickman creeps closer to the Count. There are many other excellent aspects to the production; particularly the snow covered landscape and the beautiful plumes of white spray from Dickman’s plough. Stellan Skarsgard delivers a tour de force as he moves from stolid and solid “citizen of the year” to a revengeful but determined killer. His grief for his son is immense and it is juxtaposed by the Count and Papa who each have a son who is the apple of their respective eyes. Bruno Ganz as Papa is magnificent as an old man who is ruthless and despite his age is not to be over powered in a hand to hand combat. Molland manages to relieve the tension with high comic moments mostly created by one excellent one liners. In addition the sheer vulgar bling of the Count’s pad brings a smile to the lips as it is so over the top but yet somehow credible.
On reflection, stylish and accomplished are the words which spring to mind when considering “In Order of Disappearance”. The title sets a high bar and it is a standard which Molland maintains with aplomb throughout. An achievement of which he is entitled to be proud.