On October 31, 2018, Anne-Elisabeth Hagen mysteriously disappeared from his home in Norway. A ransom note it was the only clue as to where it might be. In Netflix’s new Norwegian true crime series “The Lørenskog Disappearance”, the unsolved case of the missing wife of billionaire Tom Hagen (Terje Strømdahl, “Hodejegerne”) is explained, leaving the audience wondering: Was it really a kidnapping or murder domestic?
At the beginning of the pilot, the viewer is informed that while the show is based on real events, some changes have been made for a dramatic effect. More specifically, the story covered in the episodes did occur, but some names and dates were changed. However, it is a relatively accurate representation of Anne-Elisabeth’s disappearance.
In the opening scene, the audience glimpses what may have happened on the morning of October 31st. We see a lonely woman in her house who is violently attacked by two individuals. Apparently they knock her unconscious, put her in a body bag and leave, leaving only a note behind her. After the dramatic build-up, we see that this is just a police trial to test how long the kidnapping might have taken.
Indeed, the one thing Detective Jorunn Lakke (Yngvild Støen Grotmol, “All Foreigners Keep Their Curtains Closed”) is sure of is what the ransom demand demands: a hefty payment due in an unusual type of cryptocurrency. However, after communicating via Bitcoin transactions, the late responses of the kidnappers question whether their motivation was actually monetary.
The first episode of the show is extremely engaging, especially for those who love crime-related television. Initially, non-Norwegians might be slightly put off by the idea of subtitles, but the storyline is easy to follow and the suspenseful nature of the series never dissipates.
At the beginning of the pilot, Lakke not only wants to find answers, but inevitably feels pain for Anne-Elisabeth’s husband and children, which humanizes the violent story. However, Tom’s hesitation to comply with the police, and the fact that Anne-Elizabeth was unhappy in her marriage, causes Lakke’s pity to turn into skepticism, as does that of the public. By the end of the episode, the viewer can’t help but feel conflicted about who and what to believe.
To add to this confusion, let’s see the internal struggles Lakke faces as he conducts his first big case. With a ransom note that she warns against police and media involvement, she is unsure which course of action is most effective and whether it will endanger Anne-Elisabeth’s life. This uncertainty is contagious, leaving the viewer wondering what they would do in her place.
“The Lørenskog Disappearance” not only tells a compelling story, but does it artfully, engaging the audience in the first few minutes. Undoubtedly, by the end of the pilot, you’ll be as dedicated to solving this case as Lakke is. Fortunately, the series is only five episodes long, which makes it much easier to become an investigator yourself.
Daily Arts writer Molly Hirsch can be contacted at [email protected].