The True Mystery of ‘The Lørenskog Disapperance’ on Netflix

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Netflix has brought another Scandi-mystery to a global audience, but this one is based on a true case. Here’s what you need to know about the true story behind ’The Lørenskog Disappearance.’

Have you ever heard of Lørenskog-saken (The Lørenskog case)? If you live outside Norway, probably not. Until recently, of course. Now one of Norway’s best-known missing person cases has a global audience.

The Lørenskog Disappearance on Netflix.
Norwegian actress Yngvild Støen Grotmol stars in The Lørenskog Disappearance. Photo: Netflix.

Anne-Elisabeth Hagen disappeared from her home under strange circumstances in 2018. While Police were initially stumped, suspicion eventually fell upon her millionaire husband. He was released, and the case remains unsolved.

When Nordic noir becomes real

True crime has become one of the most popular genres of TV in recent years. It was also arguably responsible for the mainstream adoption of podcasts several years ago. Nordic noir has a global fan base, and now the two genres have come together. Sort of.

With a mystery involving a missing millionaire’s wife, complicated personal lives, botched investigations by the Norwegian police and a dive into the world of cryptocurrency and the dark web, the show has all the ingredients for a Scandi-crime hit. Yet it’s actually a dramatisation of a real life, still unsolved case.

Putting together a dramatisation of a still unsolved missing person case is an odd choice given that things in the real world could change at any point. Is it worth watching?

Take a look at the trailer, above. Then, read on for the details behind this unusual case, and make up your own mind.

What happened to Anne-Elisabeth Hagen?

Anne-Elisabeth Hagen disappeared from her home in Lørenskog, near Oslo, under strange circumstances in 2018. There were no signs of forced entry and almost no forensic evidence.

When the 69-year-old went missing, the police chose not to make the information public because her husband, Tom Hagen, is a well-known wealthy businessman.

Hagen revealed a ransom letter had been left behind at the scene. It demanded millions in an obscure cryptocurrency for her release. The letter, typed on white Clas Ohlson paper likely bought locally, was written in Norwegian.

Anne-Elisabeth Hagen portrayed in The Lørenskog Disappearance. Photo: Netflix.
Anne-Elisabeth Hagen portrayed in The Lørenskog Disappearance. Photo: Netflix.

However, while there were mistakes in the text, linguists believed the mistakes were deliberately made in order to make it seem the person behind the note was not a native Norwegian, when in fact, they were.

The real-life twist

Eventually the case was made public, but the police continued to struggle. Police made contact with the supposed kidnappers via a cryptocurrency code, but their slow, vague replies cast doubt on the whole situation.

Then after 18 months came a moment that shocked Norway. Police arrested Tom Hagen.

It was fairly well known among friends that the Hagen marriage was on the brink of failure. A divorce may have resulted in Tom Hagen losing up to half of his vast fortune, despite a restrictive prenuptial agreement.

He denied any involvement with the case, and was released shortly afterwards despite appeals to the public prosecutor from the police. Despite this, the arrest caused a resurgence of interest in the case and coverage in the Norwegian newspapers.

Yngvild Støen Grotmol.
Yngvild Støen Grotmol in the Lørenskog Disappearance. Photo: Netflix.

As of October 2022 when I'm writing this, Anne-Elisabeth Hagen is still missing.

What is the Netflix show like?

As I said before, although the case is relatively well-known in Norway, it was almost unheard of outside the country. Together with the fact that it remains unsolved, that makes the choice of the case a very odd one.

Because the case is unsolved, it removes any mystery from the mystery and gives a somewhat unsatisfying ending. The structure of the show is interesting, showing the perspective of the lawyers and journalists covering the case, among others.

There's also a lot more going on in the show including the personal lives of investigators, a honeytrap sex scandal and underground criminal gangs.

Yet despite all this story, it's a relatively slow-paced show. That's not unusual for Scandinavian crime drama, but in this case it struggles to make an impression.

“If you’re a fan of what has become known as Nordic noir, you expect a lack of action in thrillers that come from Scandinavian countries. There tends to be a lot of talking and looking at screens and pin-and-string boards. But a new series from Norway, based on a true story, seems to be nothing but talking and staring,” reported Decider.

Have you watched The Lørenskog Disappearance? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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32 thoughts on “The True Mystery of ‘The Lørenskog Disapperance’ on Netflix”

  1. I thought it was an interesting show and I liked everything but the end. I watch it at bedtime and I admit it helped me fall asleep. I had just finished watching all seasons of Borgen (Danish) and I was looking for another show from the same region. I must be a Nordic Noir fan. I also liked Chestnut Man.

  2. I am from the USA but recently spent a month in Norway so I decided to watch this. Watched it all in one evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t find it slow or uninteresting at all. I agree that it’s disappointing that we do not have a “solved” mystery but that’s truly the way life is sometimes. If you enjoy mysteries and are not overly disappointed at the mystery being solved; I highly recommend this one!

    Nordic Noir fan in Texas, USA

  3. I watch a lot of Scandanavian shows. This is in the lower 3rd of the pack. I know the case remains unsolved but the show just ended abruptly.
    The police came out poorly and the media appear to be political lapdogs.

  4. I have watched a lot of Nordic Noir. I live in the US, and appreciate the European approach to narrative drama, characterized by very little violence(shown), slowly detailed stories, subtlety overall.
    This one I liked, but as someone else mentioned, the ending was too abrupt. I would have liked them to let the air out a little more slowly. I did not realize that the crime was unsolved until it hit the wall.
    Hinterland is fictional, but is another great series in this genre.

  5. While the ending was a real laugher, it still was worth watching. If only for the
    glimpse into Norwegian Culture and landscape. At least, they told the story
    in only 5 episodes.

  6. I liked the show because I am a fan of Nordic genre. I didn’t think it moved too slow. I especially liked it because it was based on a true story. I did not know that the crime was unsolved maybe, because the Norwegian police never had a crime like this before. Could they have asked for help from police forces in other countries who have dealt with kidnappings of this nature like the USA/CIA? It is such a shame for the family.

  7. Yes, the end was abrupt and unsatisfying, but I suspect that was intentional. An unsolved case does not have a satisfying conclusion. All that seems to remain are unanswered questions.

  8. My husband and I watched it together and we were gripped by it. The structure of the story telling is unusual: how the investigation affects individual members of the police, and journalists. I actually knew about the case — I read about it in the Guardian — so the idea of a series seemed extremely interesting to me, even before I saw it. I found the story telling original and deep. Only a culture which isn’t saturated with violence, as ours is in the US, could write and produce a show like this. I wish it had continued.

    • I totally agree. We Americans can rarely tell a story of crime as deep as this without relying on horrible depictions of violence. If Nordic noir is known for this level of thoughtfulness and depth then I’m going to watch more of them! I’m grateful there was so little violence shown while at the same time there was a palpable sense of danger underneath. What is truly fascinating is not violence but the mystery itself and all the questions it raises about human behavior and motivation. I think letting us stare into the eyes of the characters is not “slow” but rather puts us in the same position the police are in – who is telling the truth?

  9. This show dragged on. The ending was unsatisfactory with no solution. Sham on Netflix for leading us down such non conclusive story.

  10. I am from USA/California. I
    Liked the series. It was slow-paced however, it kept me interested and anticipated in learning what really happened to Anne-Lisbeth. Ending was not well done but I find that a few foreign Netflix series ends that way…IDK why…? I wish they would have told more about Anne-Lisbeth’s life to
    Give us more perspective. The police also did a poor investigation. And I felt that there were a lot of pieces to the case that was never explored in the movie. But still interesting. Watch.

  11. My husband and I are watching it now.

    We have decided that Tom’s wife has set him up. She knew had there been a divorce, Anne Elizabeth wouldn’t have got a penny

    If she hated him as much as we are led to believe, she set everything up, so that he would look guilty, and suffer not knowing for the rest of his life.

    She is living a very happy and comfortable life, with no doubt money she saved, in an area where she is unknown.

    Who knows Denmark, Sweden England, anywhere

    I could help investigate

  12. Wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the series. Agree that the ending was rather unsatisfying but often that is the reality in life. Not everything has a closure. Would have liked a brief finale text to say that the case is still open and unsolved.

  13. Absolutely hard to follow piece, scenes change from present to the past and future, from someone imagining it to the present with many different characters and possible clues that went nowhere, making the show extremely low pace, however my husband and I endured it trying to find out what had happened in fact and then without further explanation the series ended. HORRIBLE film making I don’t want others to experience it.

  14. I’m from the USA also. Just finished the series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did not find it boring at all – especially because it’s based on a true story.

  15. I enjoy the Nordic crime shows much more then the very hyper and noise intensive American and UK shows. Louder does not mean better.

  16. Glad to see that many of you enjoy Scandinavian series. I truly thought I were one of very few finding “Nordic noir” fascinating. I’m actually watching this true crime story and I’m about to start the 4th episode and although the crime or appearance of it is not solved I am enjoying it. Interesting the theory of Patty Putt that it actually is not a far possibility.

  17. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched the episodes over several nights, each time for an hour, so it wasn’t boring! Totally gripped by the plot. Have to admit that, the police did a really lousy job! Also agree that more should have been delved into the lives of all those involved, Tom and his business dealings, his children, Lisabeth’s past lives, etc, etc All in all, it was a good show!

  18. I watched this over a few nights, and was curious as it was also a true story. It was interesting for the first couple of episodes, but then dragged with nothing much happening. When it finished I turned to husband and said ‘ well that’s 5 hours of our lives we’ll never get back! ‘. It was a very annoying ending which left you hanging as to what had actually happened.
    It hasn’t put me off watching these sorts of things again. I sort of feel if you watch Netflix it’s inevitable. I’ve watched many over the last few (in Lockdown) years. Glad there was this article here though to tie it up a bit more for us.

  19. love scandi noir, high quality, low gore, well made, cerebral viewing -amazing that others think a real life case ended poorly (hint it’s REAL)

  20. Managed to get through the first 2 episodes. So boring.

    I’m a retired LEO, and maybe I just couldn’t stand to watch such terrible police work, evidently in the real case also.

    There was not enough real evidence to strongly suspect the husband let alone arrest him, at least not here in the united states.

  21. California native, but Swedish/Norweigan second gen. I found the show fascinating and well done. The acting is top-notch, the pacing is slow (but I expect that with these types of dramas). I like the intellectual scope and feel of the show. It isn’t dumbed down or salacious. I don’t need (nor do I want) graphic gore in my entertainment. I also don’t expect that a biopic like this is going to have a neat and tidy ending. I watched three episodes and realized this is a case that is NOT going to be solved yet (I knew NOTHING of the case when I began watching). Anyway, about 3/4 of the way through the third episode, I told myself this has no conclusion yet (there are little clues to this, in the first three episodes). Still, the first three episodes have been fascinating. If you’re the type that needs car chases and gore, though, you’d likely be less fascinated.

  22. Loved it! Nordic noir is the best, most subtle and fascinating crime genre. Also the actors look like real people, not overly made-up with face lifts, etc. True stories never end neatly tied with a bow. The US and UK cannot replicate this type of intelligent drama, try as they might. Read any book by Hakan Nesser or the writing couple, Lars Kepler, for a real treat! Both Swedish.


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