Millions of books sold in more than 40 countries, always a blockbuster in the cinemas: The series about the special department Q by Jussi Adler-Olsen, Denmark's number one crime star, is a success story.
After "Mercy", "Desecration" and "Redemption", "Contempt" is the fourth case for Carl Mørck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his assistant Assad (Fares Fares). ZDF will broadcast the 2018 film this Monday at 10:15 p.m.
Macabre coffee table
The film begins with the scariest of all crime scenes that Carl and Assad have ever had to investigate: behind a wall that was added later in an old house, three mummified corpses are sitting at a set coffee table - their skeletal faces distorted into horrible grimaces. In front of them on the table are their genitals in jars. The fourth place is still free, as if the coffee company was not yet complete.
The trail leads the unequal team of investigators to a deserted Danish island where the unbelievable is said to have happened. Young women were imprisoned and forcibly sterilized there - and this is indeed a historical truth. From 1922 to 1961 the "Kellersche Anstalten" ran a home on the island of Sprogø for women who had gotten into trouble with the law or morals, or who had been incapacitated for alleged mental infirmities. They were subjected to cruel treatment there under the pretense of medical and psychological necessity.
So did Nete (outstanding: Fanny Bornedal), whose fictional story the film tells in flashbacks. Because she loved her cousin, her father had her taken to the institution and locked up there. In doing so, he handed her over to a sadistic doctor, an unscrupulous warden, and a merciless fellow prisoner, who destroyed the young girl's life.
It's also about racism and a shift to the right
How exactly the tragic story from back then is connected to the creepy, walled-in corpses - that's Carl and Assad's big task in this case. Because the perpetrators of that time - there is some evidence of this - are still doing their inhumane work today. The film tells a classic revenge story with a Countess of Monte Cristo as the avenging angel, but skilfully interweaves it with a topic that is more than topical: racism and the swing to the right in European societies.
However, Carl and Assad have another issue to contend with: their personal relationship. Assad senses opportunities for advancement within the police force and has applied for his transfer. Carl is deeply hurt by this decision, but - because he's Carl - can't show it and instead mercilessly picks on Assad.
"Contempt" director Christoffer Boe is the third director in the now four-part series after Mikkel Nørgaard ("Mercy"/"Desecration") and Hans Petter Moland ("Redemption"). He fits his film well into the dark and - although partly shot in Hamburg - classic Scandinavian aesthetics with which the stories about Department Q and their cold cases are told. In the meantime, the fans of the books should have gotten used to the fact that Carl is much younger in the film than the author Adler-Olsen describes.
Without revealing too much: despite all fears about the breaking up of the friendship between the stubborn pessimist Carl and the optimistic philanthropist Assad - the book series is designed for ten parts. It is therefore not unlikely that the cooperation will continue.