The rise of the Scandinavian crime thriller in contemporary Western culture has been nothing short of astronomic, encompassing literature (Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbø), television (Wallander, The Killing, The Bridge) and, naturally, cinema (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Headhunters). Renowned Danish production company Zentropa – famed for their work with Lars von Trier – entered this highly lucrative market earlier in the year with Christian E. Christiansen amnesiac drama ID:A (2011).
With a heavy sprinkling of influence from the memory-loss film canon (see The Long Kiss Goodnight , Memento , Bourne et al), ID:A centres around a young Danish woman (Tuva Novotny) who awakens to find herself bloodied and bruised on the banks of a river in the French countryside. With no recollection of how she arrived in this predicament – and the only clue a duffel bag containing two million euros – Aliena (as she renames herself) frantically tries to piece together her shattered life, whilst also pursued by a gang of shady individuals.
Whilst undeniably hackneyed to the extreme, there is something intrinsically watchable about Aliena’s quest to discover her true identity. There are echoes of Noomi Rapace in Novotny’s impressive central performance, carefully balancing a necessary inquisitiveness with an underlying fragility. Elsewhere, The Killing veterans Flemming Enevold and Carsten Bjornlund provide ample support for our sympathetic, orienteering lead.
The overall story is hampered by a number of clichéd moments and illogical flights of fancy (on an impromptu bus journey back to what she assumes is her home nation of Denmark, Aliena procures a vital clue after hearing a familiar voice on a fellow passenger’s MP3 player), with further plot devices as superfluous as they are far-fetched. However, for its modest budget, ID:A more than retains one’s attention for the duration thanks to its magnetic leading lady.
It’s unlikely that Mr. von Trier would approve of such a heinous attempt at genre filmmaking from his national cinema (particularly in his post-Europa  years), yet ID:A retains a certain gaudy charm that is difficult to discredit. An English-language remake would be a shoe-in were it not for the fact that Christiansen’s debut is itself an enjoyable rehash of tried-and-tested tropes.