Directed by: Søren Kragh-Jacobsen | 99 minutes | thriller | Actors: Anders W. Berthelsen, Maria Bonnevie, Ghita Nørby, Henning Jensen, Lars Mikkelsen, Marie Louise Wille, Sarah Juel Werner, Sonja Richter, Jonas Schmidt, Sarah Boberg, Katherine Høj Andersen, Mette Gregersen, Baard Owe, Rebekka Owe, Christian Grønvall, Vibeke Hastrup, Simon Munk
The Danish thriller “What No One Knows” appears to contain enough ingredients for an hour and a half of suspense. A murdered young woman, a father with a mysterious past, a mysterious company of secret agents, hassle with biological weapons and international conflicts. If you pour these ingredients in the conventional style of the political / espionage thriller, you may not deliver a masterpiece, but you will provide an hour and a half of entertainment.
Unfortunately, the Danish director Søren Kragh-Jacobsen takes a different approach. Especially in the beginning of “What No One Knows”, you have the idea of watching a psychological drama by Susanne Bier (“Brothers”, “Open Hearts”). Everyday characters, without any glamor or striking features, documentary filmed off the wrist. The conventional thriller elements that make their appearance after this clash with that everyday style. In addition, the story is not always easy to follow, which in turn is at the expense of the tension.
“What No One Knows” clearly wishes to be more than just a thriller. The film also wants to say something about the 21st century Big Brother society. Government cameras record everything protagonist Thomas does and send those images directly to her secret agents. While this topic is as compelling as it is urgent, it is rarely used. The film observes and it stops there. Fans of the better acting won’t get very excited either. Anders Berthelsen portrays a pale Thomas, as someone who does heroic deeds but never becomes a hero. Maria Bonnevie has nowhere to go with the faded character Ursula and the beautiful Sonja Richter disappears from the film before it even started.
The only bright spot is the young Sarah Juel Werner, who plays a credible and warm-blooded teenager as daughter Bea. The consistently sustained gloominess and the handful of nice twists and scares are too few to save “What No One Knows”. Despite its relatively short running time, this thriller turns out to be much too long. This once again proves that tasty ingredients do not always guarantee a tasty dish.