In Order of Disappearence Review
Director Hans Petter Moland has carved out his turf within Scandinavian film, making off-beat, dark comedies, often partnering with his long-standing collaborator Stellan Skarsgard. Two of his features have been tapped into competition at the Berlinale. Reminiscent of the quirkiness of The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, his latest film In Order of Disappearance is as nonsensical as it is entertaining.
Screenwriter Kim Fupz Aakeson brings to life a world in which Nils (Stellan Skarsgard), Norwegian Citizen of the year, embarks on hell-bent revenge for the death of his son, taking on one of the local drug gangs. Little does Nils know that his actions spark an escalating conflict between his target and a rival criminal group.
The leader of the first group, known as ‘The Count’ (Pal Sverre Hagen) is hassled by the day to day troubles of raising his ten-year-old son and dealing with his ex-wife Brigitte Hjort Sorensen. Hagen skilfully balances his character between the sinister and the highly comic. With only a curl of the lip, he shifts the atmosphere of a scene. Amusingly, the Count attempts to run his drug trade as closely to a corporate business as possible. He brings coffee rounds to torture sessions, and receives clients behind his desk, his walls clad with grand modern art.
Bruno Ganz interprets Papa, the leader of the rival Serbian gang The culture shock permits Moland to poke fun at Norwegians with great gusto. Locals are shown to have an incongruous code of honour, while their prison system is so comfortable it is admired by the outlaws. The Serbs, on the other hand, are child-like, both in the intensity of their emotions, and their wonderment at Norwegian winter sports.
In the midst of this, Nils is no compelling character, though that is due to his written character, rather than Skarsgard. His steadfastness and plainness of purpose comically contrasts with the neurotics of his adversaries.
In Order of Disappearance is an absurd and diverting watch. The DVD holds no special features, and the audio and video transfer are of great quality.