The Lørenskog Disappearance

Looking at a real-life crime mystery from all angles

The Lørenskog Disappearance is a five-part crime mystery based on a real-life story—and it is suspenseful and engaging.

John Smistad
Olympia, Wash.

The Netflix original production of The Lørenskog Disappearance is a frenetically paced five-installment dramatic crime series. It is, in large part, a vividly imagined account of the mysterious true-life disappearance of Norwegian billionaire Tom Hagen’s wife, Anne-Elisabeth, in 2018. 

Episode 1: The Investigators

Yngvild Støen Grotmol is brilliant as lead investigator Jorunn Lakke. Key events playing and replaying in the mind manifesting as if they are actually happening before her in the real world, while at first disorienting, become absolutely chilling as this gripping opening episode unfolds.

Lakke and her team contend with few clues, withholding details from an increasingly hounding media, a shell-shocked adult daughter desperate for answers, and a husband who seems less than panicked about the whole affair.

An unprecedented case for police, what is initially believed to be a kidnapping for cryptocurrency ransom gradually evolves into a dreaded potentiality feared by all.

Personal Life Predicament: Lakke’s retired-cop father succumbing to dementia. 

Episode 2: The Journalists (Part 1)

Into the fray enter the scribes. The mainstream media often take a shellacking in the United States. And quite often it is richly deserved. While I’m not entirely certain if this is how the Norwegian general public looks upon their country’s journalistic community, it’s a decent bet based on this production that they harbor much in common with many American attitudes toward The Fourth Estate.

Much of this episode plays like the 1976 Watergate docudrama All The President’s Men, complete with a hard-nosed reporter, Erlend Moe Riise (a quietly intense performance by Christian Rubeck), whose dogged efforts to uncover the truth about this baffling missing persons case are covertly aided by his very own “Deep Throat” character.

This series chapter ends with a perplexity. What in the hell was that brown envelope Riise just watched Tom Hagen remove from the mailbox? 

As matters become more curious and even more curious …

Personal Life Predicament: Emotionally scarring daddy issues and a newborn baby for Riise. 

Episode 3: The Lawyers

And what would any crime story worth it’s gavel be without everyone’s favorite punching bags, those ages-maligned attorneys at law? (Sorry, you conscientious counselors out there. Nothing personal, certainly. And, likely, nothing you haven’t heard before.) This third episode is highly reminiscent of a pick-any-script from the decades-running Law & Order TV franchise.

It is well over a year now since Anne-Elisabeth Hagen has been gone. Everyone involved looks drawn, worn down and out, and older than they should. 

At the sacrifice of sleep and his family life, Tom Hagen’s defense attorney and former Oslo cop Svein Holden (a smoldering, still-waters-run-deep turn by Henrik Rafaelsen), and some slick legalize maneuvers and mechanizations (are there any other kind?), the one who they say done it done gets sprung from the pokey.

And it’s right back to the rapidly shrinking drawing board for the confounded men and women in blue.

Personal Life Predicament: Heavy bags under Holden’s eyes and the loss of precious time with his wife and young daughter.

Episode 4: The Journalists (Part 2)

Aleks Zaretski (Victoria Ose) is an altruistic newspaper reporter and editor. She is driven to look at Anne-Elisabeth Hagen’s disappearance, and the manner in which the police are investigating it, from a warts-and-all perspective. However, her superiors are not on board with this no-kissing-up approach.

But Zaretski’s cohort at the periodical, Erlend Moe Riise, whom we met in Episode 2, begins to believe she is on to something. And it just may be something big. Perhaps potent enough to crack this long since stagnant case wide open. 

And he sets out to do something about it. 

Personal Life Predicament: We see Jorunn Lakke come to an institution to fetch her father, whose mental faculties have deteriorated alarmingly, and bring him back home, per his wishes. 

Episode 5: The Informants

The police are beyond desperate. This frustrating and enigmatic case now involves law enforcement agencies from several countries. With nowhere else to turn, they partner ever so warily with a wretched rat’s nest of vermin and vice for any shred of information that may finally help solve the vanishing of Anne-Elisabeth.

Where does this precarious and dangerous path lead investigators? If you don’t already know, there’ll be no spoilers here, vennene mine. Watch The Lørenskog Disappearance. This exceptionally well done Netflix production is resolutely well worth it. 

Personal Life Predicament: A Tom Hagen-obsessed Riise’s relationship is on the rocks, as Lakke moves in with a father who is no longer capable of living on his own.

Images courtesy of Netflix

This article originally appeared in the March 2023 issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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John Smistad

John Smistad is a published author of short stories, poems, essays, and movie reviews. He lives and loves with his family and cat in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. He is the fiercely proud son of a native Norwegian dad. (He loves his mom, too.) You can follow him as on his blog at thequickflickcritic.blogspot.com.