The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden I Buret)

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden I Buret)

Directed by Mikkel NÝrgaard

Rating: B

Scandinavian cinema has a tendency to be kind of grim and morbid, and the recent wave of crime-dramas is no exception. After watching this movie, or The Bridge or the Millennium trilogy, one might be left with two strong impressions of Scandinavia: that itís completely grey and colourless; and that itís full of bizarre and extravagant violence. Having been there, I can happily say that both are untrue; or at least I never once had my eardrums forcibly ruptured or my teeth removed with pliers. This filmís ill-fated victim is not so lucky. (By the way, this isnít a movie for the faint of heart).

Danish Police Detective Carl MÝrck is assigned to the Cold Cases department of his station after being injured in the field. He looks into the disappearance of politician Merete Lynggard years earlier, and suspects that it was not the suicide everyone assumed. The filmís setup is involving, but relies on a lot of crime-drama clichťs. The detective protagonist is world-weary and pessimistic (Š la John Rebus, Jack Bauer etc); heís saddled with an optimistic sidekick who he is initially annoyed by, but eventually learns from; the victim is a young, attractive and seemingly angelic woman with a back-story that might connect her to the killer; and there are even some ball-busting senior officers thrown in for good measure. This genre could really do with some mixing up. From this setup, the film did surprise me by becoming more dark and twisted than I expected, but the conclusion is very formulaic.

I thought the filmís cinematography was its most impressive feature. The way each shot is framed and set up, the colour scheme, the use of claustrophobic grey environments is all very striking and effective (again, Denmark is an extremely nice place in real life, so itís impressive how well they are able to transform it for the camera). As for the story, I couldnít help but make comparisons to The Bridge, which was similar but a lot more original and resonant. The Keeper of Lost Causes held my attention well enough, but overall it felt more like an elongated episode of a TV show than a movie.
This article first appeared in Issue 24, 2014.
Posted 3:00pm Sunday 21st September 2014 by Alex Campbell-Hunt.