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Saturday, April 19, 2014

IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE


By D.E.Levine

A Tribeca Film Festival 2014 selection

This is a slick, clever film different from anything I've ever seen from Scandinavia.  It's almost like an American crime thriller but it also has some intense black comedy humor mixed in.  It's unusual and very entertaining.

Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgard) is a placid, even-keeled Swede living in the backwaters of Norway and holding down a job where he clears the roads using a huge yellow snowplow.  Everything is white and frozen and as he plows he lifts the snow and ice in great sheets of powdery white snow into the air where it then falls to the ground at the side of the road.  It's unbelievably white and pure and no matter how much he plows, Mother Nature always delivers more snow to keep him busy.

Directed by Hans Petter Moland, the film is intense but it's in Norwegian, which will no doubt be difficult for some viewers, although the English subtitles are excellent.

Voted "Citizen of the Year" and awarded a plaque for the same, Nils isn't someone you'd associate with a major narcotics ring.  However, when some hoods decide to kill his only son Ingvar and rig the murder scene to look like suicide,   Nils deliberates about killing himself since he's despondent over the death and doesn't believe the police report.

Once he receives proof of his son's murder, Nil decides to extract revenge on the perpetrators and their bosses and literally becomes a killing machine.  Already feeling despondent with nothing to lose, Nils become incredibly adept at taking his revenge, surmounting seemingly insurmountable obstacles just as he tackles the snow obstacles with his plow.  And, although he's not a trained killer like the hoodlums, Nils proves to be extremely successful.

As the bodies pile up, a black screen with the individual's name, is displayed, which makes the entire business humorous.

The man at the top is "the Count" (Pal Sverre Hagan an egotistical, pony-tailed mobster who inherited his crime business and his cover business from his father.  Whenever something goes wrong, the Count  reacts infantilely and bratishly.  Because he's so childish, the Count  pales against Nil's blue collar efficiency and a group of Serbian adversaries that he believes is responsible and threatens.  The Serbians have a "godfather" type leader who is referred to as "Papa" (Bruno Ganz).

The script, by Kim Fupz Aakeson is tight and hysterically funny.  As Nils takes his revenge on individuals and the body count mounts, the rival gangs have a major confrontation that finalizes the situation and magnifies the unusual  feel and content of the film.

In Order of Disappearance is a gem both in plot and performance, and the cinematography of the white landscape is breathtaking.