From Norway, In Order Of Disappearance finds Stellan Skarsgård playing Nils Dickman, a man with a particular set of skills.
That is to say he’s good at operating heavy machinery as a snow plough driver in his small mountainous village; so good that he’s recently been awarded citizen of the year for all his efforts in keeping a connection between the city and mountains.
However, when his son is mistakenly murdered by gangsters, Nils sets out on a path to revenge, sparking a gang war between the Serbian mafia and Norwegian drug dealers.
From that description it’s difficult to gauge how funny In Order Of Disappearance would be. Having already been compared to the works of the Coen brothers, particularly Fargo, it is dark comedy and its very darkest.
You’ll find yourself laughing at things you know you probably shouldn’t be, especially in its first few violent and unsettling scenes. It isn’t until we’re introduced to gang leader ‘The Count’, a spoilt little brat going through child custody issues, that we’re told it’s okay to laugh. Played fantastically by Pål Sverre Hagen, it is this unhinged and overemotional character that gets most of the laughs. A lot of the comedy comes from the smaller details, often through scenes of uncomfortable situations and silences.
Away from the dark humour, it’s actually a well conceived thriller, offering up twists and turns until the different threads finally intertwine in the film’s finale.
It has interesting ideas about the corruption of small town communities by the city, how people deal with grief, and predominantly the relationship between father and son.
This theme is perhaps the most prevalent, especially towards the film’s final act, which sees a bond form between Nils and the child of his own son’s murderer. It isn’t explored in great detail, much like the relationship between grieving father and mother, but the hints of a connection raises the stakes for its gun-blazing conclusion.
There’s true wit in the writing and even minor players are given distinguishable personalities through their various ailments (toothache, poor sight) or their secret relationships.
Streaks of visual artistry give the film a surprising amount of beauty as well, through its vast landscapes of blanketed white snow.
Achieving a balance between dark comedy and thriller, In Order Of Disappearance is uncomfortably enjoyable. Be sure to seek it out before it disappears from cinema screens.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com