Copenhagen’s most miserable, most brilliant detective is back for his third big-screen outing with A Conspiracy of Faith… though the noirish adventures of Carl Mørck are hitting US movie lovers all at once, with all three of his appearances — including also The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One — getting simultaneous releases. Mørck is the creation of novelist Jussi Adler-Olsen in his internationally bestselling crime novels, a stereotypical cynical cop given authentic depths of torment by actor Nikolaj Lie Kaas (A Second Chance). (The novel this film is based on is titled Redemption in the UK; the US version shares a title with the film.) Carl is an even worse mess of existential angst as Faith opens, though he is drawn out of himself by the latest mystery handed to Department Q, the force’s cold-case office squad, which he heads. An actual message in a bottle has washed up on Danish shores, and damn if it doesn’t look as if it is written in blood, which leads Carl and his partner, Assad (Fares Fares: Zero Dark Thirty) into some horrifying intrigue concerning kidnapped children in a close-knit religious community deep in the quiet Danish countryside. Very dry humor battles with tense creepiness as Scandinavian notions of enlightenment and well-being are challenged: Carl notes that just two kids have gone missing in Denmark in the past 10 years — which might not be accurate but does reflect presumptions about low levels of crime in the Nordic world — but what he and Assad uncover suggests that there could be a chillingly nefarious reason behind such a small number. The religious nature of the case also sees Carl’s atheism undermined… or does it? Menacing, creepy, and morbidly engaging, this is catnip for crime fans.
All three Department Q films will screen at New York City’s IFC Center June 17th through June 23rd.