With the trend for all things Nordic Noir showing no sign of abating any time soon In Order Of Disappearance manages to at least offer a new slant on the theme. Because while it’s set in an ice cold landscape it toys with a bleak sense of humour, in the vein of another Nordic material Headhunters, and thanks to its aging protagonist feels reminiscent of No Country For Old Men.
Recently appointed citizen of the year for his local community Nils (Stellan Skarsgård) is a man happy to keep to himself ploughing the snow to keep the roads clear. But when his son is found dead at a train station, supposedly from a drugs overdose, Nils refuses to accept the events as the police believe they happened. So he sets out to uncover the truth and inadvertently first starts and then steps into a drug war between a group of Serbs and Norwegian bakery magnate Greven (Pal Sverre Hagen).
Kicking off slow and then rapidly escalating to the point of outlandish coincidence and amusing irony In Order Of Disappearance is essentially a comedy of errors involving revenge. So while Nils takes revenge for his son’s death so Greven wants revenge for the men of his who have been killed who accidentally assumes it’s the Serbs who then want revenge for the death of one of theirs and so on. It’s essentially a film that sets out to prove the theory that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. Meanwhile it all relates back to fathers looking out for their sons. In fact at one point one of the nasty villains says the reason they made Nils’ son’s death look like a drug overdose rather than just killing him is because there’s “always some obnoxious parent out there looking for them”. Indeed all bar one of the characters seeking revenge is a parent making the irony throughout gleefully twisted.
Director Hans Petter Moland keeps the aesthetic of the film sparse and cold. The sprawling wastelands of Norway occasionally sprayed with bone crunching, claret spraying bouts of violence. Each time someone dies they get their own title card that includes their name, nickname and religion causing genuine laughs even at the most throwaway of characters who happen to stumble into the dark plot. The film gets a little lost in the mid-section, choosing to abandon Nils’ quest in order to throw in a few too many strands of vengeance that while mildly funny don’t really add much to the overall plot or themes on offer.
Part of this is because Skarsgård is so endlessly watchable in the role. His sad sack look and almost silent demeanour are one of the highlights of the film and it’s often his naïve idea of the world he’s entered that bring about the biggest smile. Like the moment he enlists his former gangster brother to help him in his quest only to botch up hiring an assassin called The Chinaman. Skarsgård’s look of informing his brother he paid him up front because he didn’t know him and therefore didn’t trust him is impossible not to be drawn to.
At times a little convoluted Order Of Disappearance is nonetheless a darkly satisfying black comedy with enough snow on offer to give you the chills.