In Order of Disappearance (2014)

Director: Hans Petter Moland
Running time: 118 minutes
Screenplay: Kim Fupz Aakeson
Music composed by: Kaspar Kaae, Brian Batz, Kåre Vestrheim

Nils (Skarsgård) is a Norwegian snow-plough driver, and this quiet man has just been named Citizen of The Year, when he receives news that his son has died. He and his wife go to identify the body and the police tell him his son has recklessly died due to an overdose of heroin. Nils doesn’t believe the official report and goes to seek evidence of the young man’s murder. His son was actually a victim in a turf war between the local crime boss, known as “The Count”, and his Serbian rivals.

Nils hunts down the two killers, killing them after they confess to who gave the order to kill his son. This is a man on a mission, armed with a snow plough. He is on a quest for revenge with a mounting body count. Based on this information, he goes after their boss, but he finds himself in the crossfire between two rival gangs.

Skarsgård was first seen in The Hunt for Red October in the mid-80s and as Dr. Erik Selvig in the Thor and Avengers films. He balances mainstream films with art house. The Norwegian director of In Order of Disappearance, Hans Petter Molland has collaborated over the years with Stellan with Disappearance being their fourth film together, following 2010’s A Somewhat Gentle Man, another story of a quiet man pushed to the brink.

In Order of Disappearance was filmed in Norway’s snowy north, Nils goes to seek answers never once believing an accidental overdose killed his son. As Nils finds himself in the middle of a gang war, the ‘Count’ mistakenly believes the Serb gang are responsible for the murders of his men. The boss of the Serbs is Bruno Ganz, who Stellan rates highly. Nils Petter wanted to have the two of them driving together in the car in the final scene.

During the filming, Stellan actually learned to drive the snow plough, and they filmed in temperatures which were down to minus 28 degrees, beautiful, but awful conditions. And indeed this film is hauntingly beautiful and yet very awful. What is surprising about this tale of revenge is that it is also darkly human and still funny.

Stellan speaks about the atmosphere of the film in a recent interview, where he relates that Nils is what happens when a community do not have the tools to handle a devastating situation charged with high emotions. Once he loses his child, he has a very primitive reaction and when faced with brutality, feels we are capable of horrendous actions.

Stellan feels that morally you have to condemn Nils even if you understand him. Having said this, however, Stellan feels that humour is very close to fear and the brutality of the film makes it even funnier as the comedy negates the horror of it all.

In Disappearance, the Count is a calculating character trying to fill his father’s shoes. He is overly sensitive, highly strung and perhaps under too much pressure from the demands of the job. He is a bit mad, a bit mischievous and comes off as humanly flawed, I couldn’t decide if I liked his character or hated him.

Stellan also produced and appeared in the King of Devil’s Island, another film I enjoyed which dealt with a difficult episode in Norwegian history. He feels there are good filmakers in Norway. He prefers melodramatic fantasy films/stories. He likes drama to be about real people, with an element of human truth. While brutality may be hard to watch, it can also be beautiful because of real life and human truth. In Order of Disappearance is dark, grim and desolate, and yet it is also an incredibly mad and clever thriller about the cold snowy world of Norway.

Stellan Skarsgård as Nils
Bruno Ganz as Papa
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Marit
Kristofer Hivju as Strike
Jakob Oftebro as Aron Horowitz
Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen as Greven
Tobias Santelmann as Finn
Sergej Trifunovic as Nebojsa
Anders Baasmo Christiansen as Geir
Stig Henrik Hoff as Experienced police officer
Goran Navojec as Stojan
Atle Antonsen as Reddersen

Reviewed by Michelle Harrington


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