A tour de force by long-time collaborators Hans Petter Moland and Stellan Skarsgård, In Order of Disappearance grips with family, identity and most significantly, revenge.
Set in the expansive peaks of Norway, In Order of Disappearance lays out a vast, peaceful landscape in its opening shots. Jumping from close-ups of human activities to panoramic views of the snow-covered terrain, the first clips introduce the audience to the protagonist’s everyday world. It is an environment where Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgård) has just won the Citizen of the Year Award. On his big night, he shares warm words with his wife before heading out and diligently plows snow upon his return.
This peaceful outset is throttled, however, with the introduction of a second narrative; young men are hauled into a van, sped through the snow-covered streets and beaten by well-dressed, refined crooks. And these type of men, of course, can only hint at one thing: drugs, and lots of them.
The two narratives converge when one of the captured men is killed and revealed as Nils’ son; thus begins a wild, terrific journey of revenge. Dishing out equal parts comedy and violence, Hans Moland delivers a staggering visual account of a father’s endeavor to punish his son’s murderers. Tracking down the crooks one-by-one, Nils delves deeper and deeper into Norway’s drug trafficking trade in search of its ringleader, The Count (Pål Sverre Hagen). And with each target assassinated, a new name appears on-screen to mark their death; the names are listed, it seems, in order of their disappearance.
On his journey, Nils uses bootleg gear and techniques to tackle an assortment of hurdles, with the movie touching upon issues such as his wife’s grief and Nils’ opponents’ multiple connections to his flesh and blood. One aspect the character does not face, however, is himself. Nils – a self-righteous character from the beginning – has been expertly shaped by Skarsgård and Molland. The result is an intriguing character; one that is flawed, unforgiving and yet, personable all the same.
Throughout the movie, high action scenes are cut with curt humor whilst individual episodes are mixed in with wide-angle, slow-moving shots of the northern terrain. In a sense, both of these techniques highlight the futility of the men’s actions. It’s no fluke either that in the movie, each female character abandons ship whilst the men continue to war with one another. Some may consider this to be a “cop-out” of some sort, but that’s not the case; the women leave because they’re smart enough to know better than to stick around. The men in this narrative were introduced to us through destruction, grow through destruction and will eventually perish in destruction, too. In reality, who would want to wait around for that ending?
In fiction, Moland executes the perfect resolution, jumping between close-up and wide-screen shots once again. As with the entire narrative, he plays with the audience’s humor until the concluding moments, offering up a final, wicked chuckle to close the scene. The big reveal? Well, you’ll just have to watch it to find out.
We screened the film at a special The Scandinavia House sneak peak.
In Order of Disappearance will be opening in New York City at the Sunshine Cinema 5 and in Los Angeles at the Nuart Theatre on August 26th. It will also be available on On Demand and on iTunes. The film will open in additional cities on 9/2/16 including Washington and San Francisco, and in Massachusetts, Florida and Philadelphia on 9/9/16