Edinburgh International Film Festival

A Conspiracy of Faith (Flaskepost fra P) (2016)

Starring: Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Fares Fares, Pål Sverre Hagen, Jakob Ulrich Lohmann, Amanda Collin

Directed by: Hans Petter Moland

Rating: 1 2 3 4

A Conspiracy of Faith is the third Nordic noir adapted from Jussi Adler-Olsen's police procedural novels about hard-bitten, taciturn Danish detective Carl Mørck. But if you haven't seen the previous movies (I haven't) don't let that put you off, because this movie stands up just fine by itself.

Directed by Hans Petter Moland of In Order of Disappearance fame (my out and out pick of the fest in 2014) I was expecting another ice-bound pitch black comedy – but what I got was more Wallander meets New Tricks than Scandi Coen brothers.

Fares Fares and Nikolaj Lie Kaas in A Conspiracy of Faith

Mørck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), a dour sort apparently suffering from depression or PTS, and his partner Abbas (Fares Fares) head up a cold case department, and their latest puzzle is a mysterious cry for help washed up in a bottle. The faded, frightened missive appears to have been written by a young Jehovah's Witness, so the pair set out to try and identify the missing writer – and uncover the trail of a terrifyingly cold serial killer, played with chilling flair by Pål Sverre Hagan.

After a slightly slow start, the film gathers pace to become a heart-in-mouth race against time to save two further children kidnapped by this warped, cool-headed monster, including a thrilling and brilliantly shot train chase and an edge-of-seat exciting hospital showdown.

The performances are solid and the scenery simply gorgeous: vast, flat, grey expanses of sky and sea and green and yellow fields, echoing both the untouched beauty of the stolen children and the empty soul of the godless serial killer.

Yet surprisingly for a story that grapples with issues surrounding religious sects and extreme beliefs, the film ends not with desolation and loss but with an unexpected stoicism, a saving solace to be found in faith in the face of darkness. It may not be the film I wanted to see, but I'm glad I saw it all the same.

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