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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday June 16th 2024

Movie corner Bold whodunit from Denmark


“The Purity of Vengeance” (2019) ***** 5 of 5 stars

 This month I”'m attending the 38th Minneapolis- St. Paul International Film Festival for about the 14th year (not necessarily in consecutive order) and for the third year (consecutively) as press (once I did press back in the days of Oak Street Cinema).

This year the festival has brought to the Twin Cities more than 250 films from 75 countries.

One of the films that catches  my eye is a brilliant thriller/crime/ drama from Denmark called “The Purity of Vengeance” directed by Christopher Boe. Simply put, the film is as bold as it is smart marked by whodunit and why. To date, “The Purity of Vengeance” is the highest- grossing film in Denmark, but unlike so many American films of similar genre that put too much heat in the violence blocking out any feasible plot(s) the movie just blossoms.

To get a feel of director Christopher Boe”'s riveting story one first must see homicide detective Carl Morck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas)  sitting in his office mopping over his confinement to the cold case division for some indiscreet act. His partner Syrian émigré Assad (Fares Fares) vis transferred to another division as he”'s been promoted. The last days before he”'s transferred to another department, Assad looks through cold cases on his desk and one particular case catches his eye: Construction workers tearing down a false wall in seems like an abandoned apartment find three mummified bodies sitting around a table as if drinking tea. The weirdness and mystery continues when a fourth chair is empty. Television stations in Copenhagen and throughout Den- mark report the macabre mystery deaths as all three have been poisoned according to the toxicology labs.

Morck go on the assignment joined by his partner Assad and a third party Rose (Johanne Louise Schmidt) to solve this bizarre case. As one can imagine, the case is going to be a difficult one to solve especially since the bodies have been there for 30 years or more. What may take them to the source is to Sprogo ”“ now defunct ”“ a school for wayward girls subjected to forced sterilization and feticide. A young woman, in particular, Nete (Fanny Bornedal) is the key character subjected to sterilization and solitary confinement. She has disappeared over the years ”“ finding her will not be easy for the three detectives. One thing is for sure is one of the principal villains at Sprogo, Doctor Wad (Anders Hove), who led the sterilization program is now the head of a fertility clinic. Apparently, Wad has changed his evil ways, a doctor death who will do anything to keep from getting caught. He has men around him to do his dirty work directing their attention at the  detectives. Dead men (woman) tell no tells.

I hope the film can get a wider audience and those who dismiss viewing subtitled  films should be much more opened-minded. Danish subtitles notwithstanding and fun to watch.

Cast: Nikolaj Lie Kaas (Carl Morck), Fares Fares (Assad), Johanne Louise Schmidt (Rose), Soren Pilmark (Marcus Jacobsen), Fanny Borneaal (Nete), Clara Rosager (Rita), Amanda Radeljak (Nour), Anders Juul (Gunnar). Director: Christopher Boe. Running time: 118 minutes.

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One Response to “Movie corner Bold whodunit from Denmark”

  1. J M Voya says:

    I’m so glad to see you write about this film. It is the fourth in a series called “Department Q.” Here’s a trailer that features the first three films:

    They are:
    The Keeper of Lost Causes
    The Absent One
    A Conspiracy of Faith

    This series really stands out among mystery/thriller detective stories. I’ve become a big fan of Danish movies and of the lead actor Nikolaj Lie Kaas. I recommend any of his movies you can find. Several are on Amazon and Netflix. One film I recommend that is on Amazon right now is called “A 2nd Chance.”

    He also plays Divis, the Druid outcast on the Brittania series although he is almost unrecognizable.

    Danish movies are so unusual. They just ignore many conventions of other films. Watch one film on Amazon Prime called, “Men and Chicken” and you will never forget it, I guarantee.

    Thanks for letting people know that foreign movies can be so awesome.

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