Though the likes of Apt Pupil and The Debt are keen to hint that the most ordinary seeming of people could be former Nazi war criminals, that hasn’t stopped others from pursuing the same theme. This time, Swedish screenwriter and director Per Hanefjord brings Camilla Läckberg’s novel to life, hinting that the most troubling of secrets can emerge after you’ve gone.
When her parents are killed in a car crash, author and new mother herself Erica (Claudia Galli) gets a visit from a man claiming to be her brother. When he’s murdered not long after she discovers her mother’s diary, some Nazi memorabilia and secrets which had been kept hidden away for decades.
It’s only as Erica begins to investigate her mother’s past and a group of friends she associated with back then, that some of those friends, now aged start turning up dead. Clearly something that happened in the past has repercussions for the present.
A shame then that this rather workmanlike thriller never really intrigues or excites as much as its premise might suggest. Saddled with a frankly humourless and dull lead, The Hidden Child never leaps off the screen in much the same manner as Ron Howard’s lengthy and expository Da Vinci Code.
The plot may zip between the present and the past (helpfully signposted with a sun-kissed brown sepia-like haze) but too often it sags, only coming to life when another character and potential lead kicks the bucket in Erica’s presence. Why no-one suspects her then remains a mystery of course; although Jessica Fletcher, Morse and co all evaded suspicion for their ‘grim reaper’ presence too.
So while all the pieces of a decent murder-mystery are there – including a suitably grey-palette Nordic landscape – and the performances generally solid, Hanefjord’s rather pedestrian pacing means that come the finale we’ve either lost track of who we’re rooting for or the desire to find out who did it and why anyway.