The term ‘Nordic Noir’ is regularly trotted out to group together Scandinavian crime fiction and its big- and small-screen offspring. The likes of The Killing, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and the various Wallander books and television features have all fallen under its bracket. Given the success of these offerings - both critically and commercially - it has been hardly surprising that some comparatively obscure examples have also made the trip to the UK, many of which we would unlikely see otherwise. As I type the television series Those Who Kill has just completed its run on one of ITV’s Freeview channels, whilst Headhunters (an adaptation of a Jo Nesbo novel) is currently doing the rounds in cinemas. ID:A also enjoyed a brief theatrical run earlier in the year and is now arriving on disc whilst public interest in ‘Nordic Noir’ remains high.
The ‘Noir’ tag makes sense when it comes to ID:A - certainly more so than a number of these Scandinavian tales. This is a film about memory loss, a stash of bank notes and mysterious men in pursuit. The amnesia sufferer is the wife of an opera singer who awakens in a French woodland with a bloodied forehead and not a single recollection. She assumes that she too must be French as she can converse and speak in the language, though it soon becomes clear that she hails from Copenhagen. Slowly she pieces together exactly why she was in that woodland - and why she’s in possession of a firearm and all that cash - as ID:A heads into heavy flashback territory.
The gradual revelations take in everything from political activism, a drag act, domestic abuse and the expected car chases and shoot outs. Yet ID:A remains curiously uninvolving. Director Christian E. Christiansen was an Oscar-nominee in 2008 for his short film Om natta (At Night), but then he was also responsible for last year’s uninspired English-language thriller The Roommate (essentially a Single White Female knock-off for those too young to remember). He has a strong enough visual eye, not to mention an incident-heavy screenplay to keep him busy, though this doesn’t really help when it comes to tension or intrigue.
This isn’t to say that ID:A is bad filmmaking. Rather it’s the kind of film you’d happily stumble across late night on television, but unlikely rush to the nearest retailer for. In other words, you can see the opportunism in its release and that’s almost solely a case of cashing in on The Killing (with whom it shares supporting players), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and so on. Which is a shame as you’d hope that distributors would be a little more adventurous and delve into other areas of Scandinavian cinema. Indeed, if their popular hits of today are translating so well with audiences over here then why not see if earlier examples do the same? Anders Thomas Jensen’s Flickering Lights, for example, is a hugely entertaining crime comedy - and it features The Killing’s Sofie Grabol too! Or how about Kjell Sundvall’s Jägarna (The Hunters), one of Sweden’s biggest hits of the nineties yet completely unknown in the UK? Again there’s some crossover with ‘Nordic Noir’ as its lead Rolf Lassgard portrayed Wallander a number of times. Surely it would be better to introduce these films to a newer audience rather than some watered down, ultimately forgettable crime flick.
An excellent transfer. ID:A retains its 2.35:1 aspect ratio and 5.1 channel soundtrack for DVD, both of which are in fine shape. As should be expected there are no blemishes or signs of age given the recentness of the film’s production resulting in clean, crisp offerings that come across especially well. Colours are particularly strong with solid blacks and vivid primaries, whilst detail is very good for a standard definition offering. The English subtitles are optional, but the only extra is a trailer.