In light of the so-far clunky and inferior US remake of The Killing, I wanted to spread some love for the Danish original – Forbrydelsen. I can’t go into a lot of detail as the main attraction of this excellent series is the tension and element of ‘unknown’ which permeates every nook and cranny, but below is a little insight into my new favourite series.
The plot is a fairly basic premise summed up in the tagline – Who Killed Nanna Larsen? The body of a young attractive local girl shows up in the first episode, and two detectives (Sarah Lund and Jan Meyer) – one on their way out, the other on their way in – are tasked with finding out what happened to her. The 20-part series has each episode reflect each day in the investigation, much like a hybrid of 24 and The Wire. The chemistry between Lund and Meyer is great, completely defying any of the buddy cop stereotypes so prevalent in US cop dramas, as instead we see two hardworking detectives, who admittedly don’t see eye to eye, as they complement each other with their own set of detection skills. As we follow Lund and Meyer, so do we follow the Larsen family coming to terms with the tragedy, and Troels Hartmann, a young idealistic politician during his Mayoral campaign. The myriad of plots threads intertwine and overlap with red herrings popping up left, right and centre. What more, as we readily follow these detectives into the dank underbelly of Copenhagen, we are reminded that this city sees about 300 days of rain a year, as well as more darkness than the rest of us (aside from their more northern Nordic cousins) making the setting perfect for a crime drama – cold, wet, bleak, stark and foreign (as I can’t think of another major film or series set in Copenhagen). The acting chops on show are second-to-none, and before they even announced the cast of the US remake, fans of the original knew that there was no way they could live up to the drama on display here, with terrific performances from Sofie Gråbøl, Lars Mikkelson, Søren Malling, Bjarne Henriksen and Ann Eloenora Jørgensen.
It is once again great to see our Scandinavian neighbours making such great crime stories – just think of the tour du force that is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, as well as the brilliant Wallander (recently adapted with Kenneth Branagh as the titular detective) – and I can safely say that The Killing / Forbrydelsen rules the roost at present. The word is that there will be a second series soon, although only ten parts this time around. Roll on series two!!!