Crime fare at its best
by Nav Qateel
After just becoming “Citizen of the Year,” plow-truck driver Nils Dickman, learns his son has been found dead of a drug overdose. Nils soon discovers that his son was mistakenly murdered by the local mob, and with his marriage disintegrating, Nils takes the law into his own hands.
This is now director Hans Petter Moland and Stellan Skarsgård’s fourth movie together, with each film getting progressively better. Their last film, another crime caper also written by Kim Fupz Aakeson, was A Somewhat Gentle Man, where Skarsgård was an ex-con. Here, he plays a law-abiding man who’s powerless to save a once strong marriage. But he can at least call to task the people responsible for his son’s death.
Stellan Skarsgård is a tremendous actor, especially when given the right material to work with. And here, it’s as if Nils was written with Skarsgård in mind. The film opens with Nils being fussed over by his wife, who’s helping him get dressed to collect his Citizen of the Year award. He’s used to this kind of attention from his wife, but in an almost child-like way. This is highlighted after their son dies, when the pathetic-looking figure of Nils stands there waiting on his cufflinks being put on his shirt, only to be pointedly ignored. This marks the beginning of the end of what was once a happy relationship. Well, perhaps not a happy marriage, more one of amiable acceptance of their marital status.
What then follows is a bit of a slow-burner, interspersed with plenty of violence as Nils seeks justice for what’s happened to his son and once stable life. In between these acts of extreme Death Wish-like violence, Nils still finds time to plow the roads so that the traffic can move. It’s his ordinariness that’s as appealing as it is annoying, and could be why his wife fails to recognize him anymore.
The characters were each interesting in their own way, especially local mob boss and vegan, Greven, played note -perfect by Pål Sverre Hagen. Playing his Albanian opposite, Papa, was Bruno Ganz, an actor made famous for playing Hitler in Downfall (Der Untergang) 2004. Ganz is actually more famous for the huge number of “Hitler Finds Out” parodies that are continually being made.
As with Tarantino’s films, great effort has gone into giving many of the characters depth, no matter how small their part, and that is just one reason why In Order of Disappearance is so engrossing. Director Moland has made English-speaking films before, like Aberdeen, for example, and one gets the feeling that this film could have played well to English speaking countries. It’s their loss if they don’t want to read subtitles.
Beautifully shot, well directed, cleverly written and brilliantly acted. A must see.