NZIFF Review - In Order of Disappearance
Scandi-noir gets a darkly comic boost with In Order of Disappearance, a revenge saga where Stellan Skarsgard's Citizen of the Year Nils has to turn to the dark side after his son's killed by gangland crims.
With his wife believing the son had turned to drugs and lost his way, Nils is about to shoot himself when he finds one of his son's friends who had inadvertently set him up. Given the details of what's gone down and who's involved, Nils channels his inner Dirty Harry / Liam Neeson and sets out to exact revenge on those who've done him wrong.
For a film set in the white snowy expanses of Norway, this film's heart is as blackly comic as they come.
It opens with Nils running his snow plow through vast amounts of the white stuff and then takes a turn for the darker climes as the gangland element kicks in. With Nils intoning that he's "best at minding my own business" as he's given an award, you know that's never going to be the case as he cuts a sway through the criminal element, slowly and meticulously tracking them down and causing ructions in a fragile peace between the warring drug factions.
It's Skarsgard's film through and through, though his quietly determined edge sits at odds with the gangsters, who are there for comic relief and whose ineptitude shines through. Skarsgard keeps a level of dignity throughout - and scenes with his wife after their son's death drip with poignancy and emotion. It's a level of humanity which elevates this, despite some uglier misogynistic moments towards the end from the lead bad guy.
In stark contrast to the white driven snow, the film's heart is as dark as it comes, with a series of ongoing gags about how Nils is disposing of the bodies, death notices peppering the screen each time someone's offed and the gangland boss railing at how his son won't now be able to have his 5 a day because one of the henchmen's not packed his fruit.
But it's Snow Country for Old Men as Nils edges closer to his targets - the sparsity of his interactions and despatches lack the conventional Hollywood parting quip (and all are the more terrific for it) as the final showdown arrives.
All in all, In Order of Disappearance, aside from 2 moments of unnecessary repugnant ugliness, is one of the finer Scandi flicks to emerge from the Festival in a few years.