The Keeper Of Lost Causes – Film review

The Keeper of Lost Causes photo 01 by Christian Geisnaes’s J. Alistair Darcy battles some seriously aggressive lifts en route to checking out Danish movie “Kvinden i buret”:

Initially, I wasn’t so sure I was going to make it to the preview screening at all, having to first overcome the major obstacle of the lifts in this particular building that give you absolutely no time to get in before they violently close in your face, a problem perpetuated by the two opposing rows of four mockingly spaced elevators on either side of the walkway. I felt like Gandalf attempting to escape Saruman in the first Lord of the Rings movie, only far sadder, less magic, and almost certain to have had any security guards watching over CCTV in stitches.

After finally making it into a lift on my fifth try, I prepared myself for the screening of Danish film Kvinden i buret (The Keeper Of Lost Causes). The average viewer will know the screenwriter from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and A Royal Affair, and the guy with two of the same name, (Fares Fares, playing Assad), but for the vast majority, the rest of the credits will simply be a spill of unpronounceable foreign gibberish. That being said, I found the film well deserving of then going back and at least attempting to decipher the credits in order to identify with what I’d just seen.

At first, I was anxious that I was walking into a European buddy-cop movie, stereotypically 20 years behind the American culture we get force-fed on nearly every visit to the cinema. Yet despite the odd-couple presentation, the characters manage to rise above this and I was relieved to actually care what was going on for them. Full credit to the actors for time and time again drawing my eyes above the white block-lettered subtitles, and keeping me from ever feeling like I was reading a screenplay with sound, as unfortunately can be the case with some foreign language films.

Immediately I was impressed with the cinematography and visual consistency of the movie. It was obvious that every aspect of filmmaking had been engaged to enhance and support the story, and the moods of lighting and music were intense but not overwhelming, subconsciously allowed by their relevance to the circumstances and narrative of the picture.

My only major groaning point was in the heavily clichéd premise behind the story: Renegade cop pushes the boundaries and breaks the rules one too many times, gets relieved of his duty only to continue with his case in time to make amends by the end of the third act. Even this, though, was forgivable based solely on the absence of that all-too-often seen, over-dramatised “Turn in your badge and gun!” scene – in this one, they only have to turn in their badges.

I guess they didn’t have much choice on that front, though, as the film is based on the first in a series of bestselling books by Jussi Alder-Olsen, which has already sold over seven million copies worldwide and this first installation even made the New York Times bestseller list. True to the novels, the film also left the doors wide open for potential sequels in the future, which, in earnest, would be gladly welcomed by me.

Further distancing itself from the average crime-drama or one-dimensional detective thriller, The Keeper Of Lost Causes adds an extra psychological layer in its very clear theme of humanity’s ability to manage adversity and deal with tragedy. At least five of the main characters exhibit various methods of coping, or reactions to their experiences both previous to and during the film. It is just as much of an investigation into these differing behaviours as it is the surface crime story. At one point, the two central characters even have a conversation about it, comparing their conflicting responses to their respective traumas.

The Keeper Of Lost Causes is definitely worth a watch. The protagonist is a jerk, but manages to have you cheering for him by walking that fine line of exhibiting those endearing qualities we love in our jaded heroes just at the right times. There is the occasional laugh, which is handled in an appropriate and well-timed manner; and the clichés are balanced nicely by the equal amount of unique and interestingly original content.

The Keeper Of Lost Causes is released on 31 July 2014



Review by J. Alistair Darcy