Norwegiean Cinema: A Bit of Dark Humor.

Norwegiean Cinema: A Bit of Dark Humor.

If you're looking for a couple of the films I mentioned, you may come across several others. One of which involves a snowplow driver who goes on the vengeance trail to kill the drug dealers who murdered his son, sparking a war between two factions of drug dealers.

If you're thinking, "But, that Liam Neeson movie, Cold Pursuit, isn't out yet," you'd be right. I'm talking about the Norwegian movie that inspired it, with the english title In Order of Disappearance who's original title translates more literally as "the work of idiots."

First, the bad. This is a Nordic film. The baseline attitudes are european, and relatively progressive ones at that - such that I'm actually shocked Kon-tiki was a straight-up men's adventure without feminist posturing. As always, there's going to be a few bits or conversations dropped in that works on the assumption that the socialist/welfare types are the good guys, and the business/capitalist types are the bad guys. At one point the native drug gang is described as "dressing like right-wingers".

That said, part of it is just the cultural zeitgeist, especially there, and in this case, like most of the films I've watched so far, it's usually not handled in a heavy-handed way that takes you out of the film. The one exception here is a scene with a gay kiss that seemed forced, even if the two men being a "couple" turns out to have significant consequences later on.

Nevertheless, we don't have the sheer poz of British productions, even those set in Norway, such as the recent "Snowman" movie which reeks of feminist assumptions about men.

So, what is the movie?

Well, yes, it's a vengeance crime thriller. It's also an exceedingly black, and very funny, comedy. The ineffectiveness of the cops dealing with the fallout of low trust groups or violent criminals, and the slightly ridiculous nature of the "Baron", the Norwegian drug boss, who nevertheless manages to be threatening, make that clear, but outside of that, the funniest moments are often involving the stolid, reliable Nils, who is played utterly straight by Stellan SkarsgÄrd, who also played Scherbina in the recent, and still worthwhile, Chernobyl series. (A discussion of how they cut out the majority of the soldiers work to make it about scientists saving the day, and may have played loose with other facts, is for another time, if ever).

Nils is an "immigrant" swede who's been awarded in his smallish town for his work and stolid reliability as a plow driver and company owner, keeping the roads clear in winter. Quiet, unassuming, not seeking trouble, and always doing what is needed to ensure everything works - he even is spraying down his plow ensuring everything is cleaned up after a run when his wife and he hear of his sons death.

They identify the body, and are told it was an overdose. The cops assume that the parents, typically clueless, don't realize their son was an addict. The mother fully believes that story and blames herself, but Nils refuses to believe it - which starts a fracture in the marriage that does not heal, at least not within the context of the movie. In his defense, other than being right, Nils is consistently portrayed as observant and attentive to detail, even by that point in the film, so the idea of him knowing his son is not an addict isn't a stretch, and further developments show that while he may not be experienced in the criminal underworld, he does have reason to know some of the signs.

About to kill himself over the loss of his son, he is interrupted by a "friend "of his son's, desperate for money and a way out of Norway, who explains that he's sorry, Nil's son died because the friend took advantage of him to steal from the dealers, and the son was both innocent, and, indeed, murdered. And so, with a name, Nils finds purpose again, beginning a process of following the chain of underlings to the center to seek vengeance for his son.

And the drug dealers respond. But, not realizing it is mild-mannered Nils, they immediately suspect the Serb drug gang, with which there is a tentative truce, and make an example of one of the Serb couriers. This, of course, starts an all out war between the two factions.

One of the darker bits of humor involves the english title. Instead of directly translating the Norwegian title, they named it In Order of Disappearance. After each person dies the screen blacks out, a cross or other relevant religious symbol is shown, and their nickname and Name. Also, at the beginning, "disappearance" is indeed apt as Nils is rather pragmatic in how he disposes the bodies to forestall discovery.

In either case, it is a dark and funny movie.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.