Nils (Stellan Skarsgard) has just won the Citizen of the Year Award in his small town, when he hears that his son has died of an overdose. Unable to accept that his son would take drugs, Nils believes his son has been murdered, and vows revenge. It’s not long before Nils’ actions ignite a feud between rival drug gangs in Norway, and the Citizen of the Year takes some dark decisions.
In Order of Disappearance is a strange sort of beast; while the film starts off as tragedy, it swings in and out of some incredibly dark comedy, with some wildly over the top characters and choices.
Stellan Skarsgard – as always – is quite wonderful in his role as Nils, the man who is so beloved by his community. Skarsgard makes Nils relatable and engaging, but it is always clear that this is a man who loves his family, and while his actions may be violent, they come from a place of love. He also seems quite bewildered by the world he sometimes finds himself in, but is willing to plough through – much as he does in his professional life as a snow plougher – in order to get the justice he so desperately craves.
Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen takes on the role of Greven, the criminal behind the murder of Nils’ son. Hagen takes the role completely over the top, making Greven a campy, unpredictable and rage filled villain. Hagen gets some fantastic one-liners, and it is his performance that provides a lot of the film’s dark humour. The rest of the cast is made up of Bruno Ganz, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Kristofer Hivju.
The story is a complicated one, and twists and turns as Nils tries to get to the heart of the crime ring that executed his son. There are times when the plot almost overpowers the performances and atmosphere of the film, and the pacing means that it feels as though the film takes a long time to get going. That said, once the energy of the film gets going, the deaths and laughs come thick and fast.
Director Hans Petter Moland directs competently, but does sometimes get a little too caught up in the twisting story, and allows the film to lose pace and structure. Skarsgard and Molland have a long standing relationship – this is their fourth film together – and this shows in Skarsgaard’s performance.
In Order of Disappearance is a dark crime caper that shows Skarsgard and the Norwegian countryside off at their very best. There are times where film is a bit of a mess, with the pacing and story strands wandering all over the place, but everything pulls together for the final act.