Like the first episode of a finely crafted TV series you won't want to miss, this sharply involving Danish thriller introduces us to the mystery-solving duo of Department Q. A second film has been shot, and a third is in the works, and it's well worth jumping on board with this seriously complex franchise-opener, a combination of fascinating characters and a riveting story.
It opens with detective Carl (The Killing's Nikolaj Lie Kaas), who's reeling after a routine stakeout goes horribly wrong, leaving his partner dead and his best friend (Troels Lyby) paralysed in hospital. His tough-minded boss (Soren Pilmark) reassigns him to work in the basement, cleaning out the unsolved files piling up in Department Q. His new partner is the rookie Assad (Zero Dark Thirty's Fares Fares), and the first case that catches Carl's eye involves young politician Merete (Sonja Richter), who apparently leapt to her death from a ferry. But her body was never found, and Carl doesn't think she would have left her mentally impaired brother Uffe (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) to fend for himself on the ship. When Carl and Fared start re-interviewing witnesses, they clearly strike a nerve, as their boss and the original cop (Michael Brostrup) on the case repeatedly tell them to drop it.
It's great to see a story like this given the chance to play out so cinematically, instead of being forced into a one-hour TV slot. Not only does director Mikkel Norgaard make terrific use of big-screen imagery, but the script by Nikolaj Arcel (who wrote the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo film) is a beautifully structured blend of flashbacks and parallel timelines that build maximum tension as things come to a boil. The film is also packed with smaller scenes that offering gripping wrinkles both in the plot and in the characters' personalities. One of the most fascinating elements is Assad's patient friendship with Uffe after Carl's abrasive approach alienates him. It's just one of the details that make Kaas and Fares a terrific on-screen partnership.
Continue reading: The Keeper Of Lost Causes Review
It's one thing to know in your own ego that you're an intrepid cinematic genius. It's quite another thing to be so cocky that you leave flubbed shots in your movie and call it art.
That's the line that the brilliant Lars von Trier crosses more than once in "The Idiots" -- a sometimes tense and engrossing, other times dull as dishwater drama-comedy about a misanthropic clique of societal escapees who pretend to be mentally retarded as a way to release stress.
The reclusive wunderkind Danish director of emotionally ravaging films like "Zentropa" and "Breaking the Waves," and off-kilter dark comedies like "The Kingdom," von Trier is also the ad hoc leader of a Danish experimental directors' collective called Dogme 95, which espouses ultra-minimalist filmmaking. Dogme movies such as "Mifune," "The Celebration" and "julien donkey-boy" abide by monastic rules that, in the name of realism, include forbidding the use of extra lighting or sound and insisting all filming be done on location with hand-held cameras.
Continue reading: The Idiots Review
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