keeper_of_lost_causesI guess it was the phenomenal success of the book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that sparked the current popularity of Scandinavian crime fiction. A trip to Waterstones and you are confronted with rows of books written by authors with long unpronounceable names, and the BBC4 Saturday night schedules are packed with programmes from Norway and Sweden etc.

We are now starting to see a steady stream of films too, such as Jackpot, Headhunters; and now The Keeper of Lost Causes, based on the first of a series of books by Jussi Adler-Olsen. I can’t help feeling that all of them tend to get a better critical reception because they are subtitled which gives them an arthouse feel. That is certainly the case with this new effort, which is a decent enough crime thriller, but would not have had the same critical interest if it came out of Hollywood.

Nikolaj Lie Kaas plays Carl, a typical maverick homicide detective, who after a stakeout goes tragically wrong, is re-assigned to a cold case files department. The new job is meant to be largely desk bound, but when Carl starts investigating the disappearance of a politician (Merete Lynggaard played by Sonja Richter), he becomes involved in a dangerous race to save her life. Now, this is all pretty enjoyable but it isn’t any more complex than a police procedural you can watch on TV. Kaas is good, though the performance of Fares Fares as Assad, his less stereotypical and more optimistic partner, is the stand out one of the cast. Richter seems a little miscast as the supposedly irresistible Merete, but is better as her mental condition deteriorates.

The tension builds reasonably well as the time starts to run out for Merete, though the identify of the killer and the reason for his actions are too clearly signposted at an early stage in the film. All-in-all, there’s enough to keep you watching and you should be engaged enough with the characters by the end of the film to be interested in the next film of the series.

Rating 6 out of 10

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