Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Pilou Asbaek, Danica Curcic, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Johanne Louise Schmidt, Marco Ilso, Beate Bille, Peter Christoffersen, Soren Pilmark, Michael Brostrup
It is perhaps one of the quirks of cinema that a film can achieve much on the big screen and yet its two follow ups seem to drift away from the limelight without even being seen by anyone, such is the precarious nature sometimes of producing a modern noir that might seem unpalatable to anyone outside of the fan or the seriously interested viewer.
The rigours of the Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes might have been a strain on those not used to seeing the minute details of a detective struggling with his burn out lifestyle, those who like the clean cut world of everything being solved by a team of lab assistants and not by dogged determination and fuelled by an overwhelming sense of unease and brutal self examination. Yet to those who still see detective work as the series of mistakes and the inevitable breakthrough by a slip up by a suspect, then the Danish Noir is almost as perfect as you could hope for.
Department Q: The Absent One is the biting and overwhelmingly cruel sequel to the film that was respected by cinema audiences and it is such a shame that this film never received its true chance in that department, for it is a story that really gets under the audience’s skin, its sense of viciousness and intensity never lets go of the imagination and for Nikolaj Lie Kaas as the detective, Carl Mørck, whose worries and past are more lasting than an a superstitious tarot card reader spending a night at a haunted house within the confines of the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, this is a dream role, one that really allowed him to open up both the nightmares implied and his own personal belief in acting.
Alongside both Danica Curcic and Sarah-Sofie Boussnina as the younger schoolgirl and the adult Kimmie, a woman whose own slide into insanity is not helped by her disastrous affair with a manipulative rich man, Department Q: The Absent One is a film well worth catching, a distinctive voice in European cinema and one that seems to have had the downside of not being admired in Britain, a shame when our own attempts at Noir have not been as admirable.
Department Q: The Absent One verges on the distressing, on the recurring nightmare that society seems to have gone down a pit to which it cannot fully recover, especially when viewed from the eyes of those let down by that society, a real classic of the genre.
Ian D. Hall