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“What Remains” Movie Review, Live Streaming & Download

whatremains

For the first 15 minutes of “What Remains,” we follow around a Scandinavian man named Mads Lake (Gustav Skarsgård), formerly Sigge Storm. Bearded, grizzled, timid, always wearing a Rukka outdoor coat — Lake is looking to start a new life after spending years in a psychiatric hospital. He tries (and fails) to get an apartment, gets mugged at knifepoint, and reconnects with his older brother. Right when you start to feel some sympathy for this poor sumabitch, therapist Anna Rudebeck (Andrea Riseborough) shows up and asks him this whopper: “What’s this about the nine boys you’ve molested?”

From then on, “What Remains” becomes a chilly psychodrama that dares you to feel something for a pedophile. Of course, Lake is a product of sexual abuse; his father began molesting him way back when he was three. When he hears about the unsolved case of a missing six-year-old boy, he wonders if he did more than sexually assault children.

Along with looking like they’re suffering from seasonal eczema, most of the characters are lost, damaged souls. That aforementioned therapist, who has daddy issues of her own, is obsessed with getting pregnant, even hooking up with some rando in a late-night backseat attempt to get knocked up. (Riseborough, that pale-faced chameleon, leans into playing someone who appears dead inside, even when she wants to put a baby in there.) They’re joined by Soren Rank (Stellan Skarsgård, gruff as always), a cop assigned to solve the case. He’s also a recovering alcoholic working on getting back on his ex-wife and daughter’s good graces.

Yes, “What Remains” is a family affair. Not only do we have two generations of Skarsgårds acting together (both of them do thorough work playing two men quietly haunted by their past sins), but the movie is also co-scripted by Megan Everett-Skarsgård, Stellan’s wife and Gustaf’s mom. Artist/co-writer/director Ran Huang corralled the fam for this hella bleak journey, inspired by the true story of Sture Bergwall, a disturbed, Swedish man who confessed to 30 murders he thought he did.

For his debut feature, Ran presents a truly cold, unforgiving world. The three main characters reluctantly form a crime-solving unit, with Rudebeck & Rank getting Lake to recollect memories of murder that may or may not have happened. Eventually, this trio comes up with more pain than closure. As he establishes with the introduction of Lake, Ran slowly takes his time unfolding the story, making this 126-minute film a snow-capped mix of trauma and tedium. It’s a serial-killer tale that almost relishes in not reaching a satisfying conclusion. (Think “Zodiac,” without David Fincher’s stylish, engaging meticulousness.) Key bits of information are either quietly muttered or not said at all. You will be required to do some dot-connecting, especially when it all builds up to a climax that’s violent, head-scratching, and, of course, sad as hell.

It seems like everyone involved with “What Remains” wanted to see how far they could go in making a murder mystery so miserablist; it’s almost fascinating watching how dour, dismal, and depressing this thing gets. Even the movie’s title serves as a tragic query regarding the whereabouts of missing children and what’s left of the soul & sanity of the person who possibly had something to do with their disappearance. Don’t be surprised if you ultimately do end up feeling for Lake, a man who eventually wishes everyone would leave him alone so he can get back to being the tormented monster he already knew he was.

What Remains movie poster

What Remains (2024)

127 minutes

Cast

Gustaf Skarsgårdas Sigge Storm / Mads Lake

Andrea Riseboroughas Anna Rudbeck

Stellan Skarsgårdas Sören Rank

Éva Magyaras Lillemor

Charlie Peterssonas Kelvin Holst

Director

  • Ran Huang

Writer

  • Ran Huang
  • Megan Everett Skarsgård

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