Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Danish television. I did this, in part, to prepare for my article on Mads Mikkelsen, but I’ve also been binge-watching a lot of Danish TV in anticipation of the upcoming fourth season of Borgen, which will be a co-production between Netflix and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR). But I’ve also recently watched three Danish shows that were released over the course of the last few months. Today, I want to tell you about Cry Wolf, The Mole, and The Investigation.
Danish Title: Ulven Kommer – Created by Maja Jul Larsen
The first show that I want to introduce you to is the new series created by Maja Jul Larsen for the Danish channel, DR1. Larsen is a screenwriter who has worked on shows such as Borgen, Bedrag (Follow the Money), and Arvingerne (The Legacy). Cry Wolf, which, in itself, is a fairly telling title for a show, is about a social worker, Lars Madsen (played by Bjarne Henriksen), who has to figure out if Holly (played by Flora Ofelia Hofman Lindahl), a 14-year-old girl, is telling the truth about her step-father, Simon Hansen (played by Peter Plaugborg), who she insists is violent. At this point in time, there are eight episodes planned for the series, and I have seen the first five of these episodes. While I’m still interested in the series, I have to say that I have some notable problems with it thus far.
I was initially intrigued by the show because Bjarne Henriksen was, in a way, playing a similar character to the one he played in Thomas Vinterberg’s Jagten (The Hunt), but what has kept me interested in the show are some of the supporting performances. And, really, if Lindahl and Plaugborg’s performances were not as good as they really are, then I probably wouldn’t be writing about it here. I think that Plaugborg’s performance is nuanced in a way that makes it difficult to tell what kind of person he is, and Lindahl’s performance is equally good. She sometimes manages to look like she is about to break or explode in front of our eyes. Henriksen, Plaugborg, and Lindahl have really elevated this show above mediocrity. The problem with the show is that while it, on the whole, is a sometimes affecting piece of social-realism, the show’s plot developments are telegraphed and, generally, the main plot develops at a glacial pace. I’m still hopeful that the show has more to it than what has initially been revealed, but I’m losing patience, frankly.
The Mole: Undercover in North Korea
Danish Title: Muldvarpen – Undercover i Nordkorea – Directed by Mads Brügger
Like I wrote in my review of his 2019 documentary film Cold Case Hammarskjöld, Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger is best known for his elaborate and sometimes controversial stunt-documentaries. He is a scrupleless and brave documentarian who has previously put himself in precarious situations to reveal something about our world. However, in his documentary mini-series titled ‘The Mole,’ he has taken a back seat and let someone else’s bravery shine. Nevertheless, The Mole: Undercover in North Korea absolutely does feel like somewhat of a sequel to Brügger’s The Red Chapel, in which Brügger and two comedians fooled and tried to expose the North Korean regime. With The Mole, Brügger has found someone who may have been able to figure out much more than Brügger did back in the day.
The Mole is a documentary mini-series about how Ulrich Larsen apparently spent ten years infiltrating the Korean Friendship Association, as well as how Larsen and an ‘investor’ (in reality, an actor hired by Brügger) gained the trust of powerful people associated with North Korea. I won’t go into what Larsen and Brügger claim to have revealed, but I will say that the documentary is gripping and tense. I thought it was really smart for Brügger to have stepped as much into the background as he has, especially because his involvement eventually builds up to a good conclusion for his mini-series. This is really just a fantastic spy documentary. Just like we have become accustomed to with Brügger’s other documentaries, you really have to see it to believe it.
Danish Title: Efterforskningen – Written and Directed by Tobias Lindholm
The final show that I want to write about and recommend in this article is the true-crime mini-series The Investigation, which has been shown in its entirety on TV2, one of the main television channels in Denmark. The series has been created, written, and directed by Tobias Lindholm, who has made his name as one of Denmark’s brightest filmmaking talents. He has co-written films such as Another Round and The Hunt, and he has directed Danish films as well as episodes of Netflix’s Mindhunter. The Investigation is based on the true story of how the Copenhagen Police’s homicide unit investigated and tried to solve the murder of the Swedish journalist Kim Wall.
This series has been slightly controversial because it, to some, feels too recent since Kim Wall died in 2017. It has been called unethical and it has received a lot of bad press, even before it aired on television. Let me start by saying that I understand this criticism. However, nevertheless, I have to say that I did really appreciate how the series approached the true story. I think it was a good choice that, to the best of my recollection, the murderer’s name is never uttered and that no actor plays him. Instead, the series focuses on the investigation led by Jens Møller (played by Søren Malling), and on how he tried to work together with, and help, Wall’s parents, who are played by Pernilla August and Rolf Lassgård. I think it is clear and obvious that Lindholm has thought carefully as to how he can best tell this story without doing harm to the Wall-family.
I think the show treats the subject-matter thoughtfully and respectfully. Each episode feels purposeful, and the performances have a lot of weight to them. Lassgård and August are especially memorable, but Malling also does a really good job here. What doesn’t work as well with The Investigation is how the story is paced. The investigation itself was probably arduous, and the show can be equally difficult to watch. Some of this is definitely intentional, but I, frankly, don’t think there is enough story for all six episodes, which means that the show sometimes drags. But, to me, the biggest problem with the series was the clichéd nature of Jens Møller’s life away from the job. The show is clearly trying to draw parallels between his family and the Wall-family (and this sometimes works really well), but the subplot involving Møller’s daughter is uninspired and predictable. But, again, nevertheless, I do think this is one of the more memorable Danish series this year.
– Article Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.