Starring: Rolf Lassgård, Peter Stormare, Annika Nordin
Running Time: 129 mins
Synopsis: Erik (Lassgård) has become the National Murder Commission’s best interrogator, and fifteen years after leaving his home town, he reluctantly returns to solve a brutal murder. The complex case becomes more challenging when he finds he has a new nemesis, by the name of Torsten (Stormare), to contend with.
Sundvall’s follow up to his 1996 film, JÄGARNA, follows protagonist Erik once more, although the film stands alone as a separate story. It also boasts terrific performances from Lassgård (STORM) and Stormare (HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION).
The two central actors do an unrelenting job of playing to the subtext of the roles, which allows for a genuine uneasiness to wash over the audience each time they share the screen. This is particularly heartening, as crime mysteries do not often thrive when it comes to character interaction and relationships, because so much focus is reserved for the intricacies of plot. Stormare is particularly impressive as the horribly flawed Torsten, who is simultaneously intimidating and sympathetic at times. Portraying this, especially as an antagonist, is no easy feat.
Another agreeable aspect of the film is its structure and mode of storytelling. Opposing the traditional ‘pull back and reveal’ trope so many crime thrillers rely on, FALSE TRAIL does not provide any pseudo-epic revelations, but rather focuses on gradually building suspense, and piecing together a rich in-depth story. It is realised with painstaking detail and culminates in an explosive conclusion.
This is also a flaw however – and it contributes to its slightly fleshed-out running time – because it spends a bit too long tying up every single loose end, even the seemingly trivial plot points. This does detract slightly from the realism of the story, as you would at least expect some minor details to remain latent; life dictates as much.
Sundvall helps to make up for these niggles by diligently capturing the beautiful, though lonesome, Swedish landscape, which is reflected in the desolate characters and their personal struggles. Furthermore, a vast snow-covered terrain is a relatively unfamiliar setting for a barbaric murder and subsequent investigation, and the unfamiliar is what we should look for in any artistic venture.
FALSE TRAIL is not a fast-paced action-packed thriller, but it is all the better for it. What it does instead is draw you into its world, attach you emotionally to its characters, and feed your curiosity as you unravel the story along with Erik. If you’re tired of polished hacks, and enjoy layered narratives, then give Sundvall’s offering a try.