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Quality crime drama - but nothing earth-shattering.
Caught the Danish premiere yesterday with a friend - going in without much in the way of expectations.
I'm still in the process of reading the book, which I think is a fine crime/thriller/drama - but not much more than that. Not sure what all the fuss is about - but maybe the latter half of the book will make that clear.
Inevitably, there are significant changes from the source - most notably the protagonist Carl Mørck being significantly younger in the film. But Nikolaj Lie Kaas does a fine job portraying the jaded and highly sarcastic cop despite his age, and he's a reasonable fit for the part.
Fares Fares plays Assad, the upbeat immigrant counterpart to Mørck - and he's the standout in the film, if you ask me. He's a pitch-perfect match for the character in the book, and he manages to give the part warmth, machismo and endearing humor all in one package. Pretty much exactly as I imagined him - and that includes his physical appearance.
The character of Merete Lynggaard is played by Sonja Richter - and I'm not sure what to think of her portrayal. It's for certain that she's done a great job with her physical appearance - which changes during the film, to a degree not unlike the well-known extremes like DeNiro in Raging Bull or Christian Bale in The Machinist. Not quite that extreme, but probably the most significant physical change I've seen in Danish acting. That's commendable, of course, but I honestly don't think she's a good fit for Merete as described in the book. It's mentioned several times that she's almost divine and irresistible in her beauty and charm.
I imagined her as having much more presence than Sonja, I have to say. Overall, I'll give her a pass because of the work she put into her body for the film - but I would have chosen someone else for the part.
As for the film itself - it obviously skips a lot of detail, but that's to be expected. I did miss some of the interplay between Mørck and his boss (played by Søren Pilmark) and they didn't do justice to his relationship with Hardy, his crippled-by-gunshot best friend (Troels Lyby).
But beyond those omissions, I found the experience very engaging and quite faithful to the book. The atmosphere is very strong - with great photography and lighting. It has a very suitable Noir feel throughout - and I particularly liked the music, which did a great job of setting the dark tone.
The locations are strong - and I must admit that the police station and its "Afdeling Q" basement looked more or less just like they did in my mind when reading.
The buddy cop partnership of Mørck and Assad is spot on - and has a great combination of humor and subtle mutual respect. The banter between these two guys is definitely the high-point of the film.
I'm not going to spoil anything - so it will suffice to say that the ending is good and extremely tense.
Essentially, it's a great adaption - and I don't think they could have done much better, given the nature of film and the limited run-time.
It probably bears repeating that I'm not a major fan of the book (based on the first half) - and as such, I might not be invested enough to notice all the flaws. So, take that into account when reading this review.
I hope I've been helpful ;)
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