I’ve just finished watching the first two episodes of the Danish crime drama The Killing on BBC4, and it’s so exceptional I felt I had to blog it straightaway.
Forbrydelson / The Killing is an outstanding, powerful, grown-up drama that seeks to show not just the criminal investigation of a murder, but the devastating effect that the crime has on the victim’s family and friends. Part police-procedural, part family drama, part political drama, it chronicles a 20-day police investigation in 20 episodes, allowing for events to unfold realistically from different points-of-view. It’s extremely moving, particularly in its depiction of parental grief, with outstanding acting all round: I don’t mind admitting that I shed a tear or two (and as Mr. Peabody will tell you, this is a rare event indeed – I’m usually tough as old boots).
The police investigator in charge is Sarah Lund (played by the excellent Sofie Gråbøl), who is sucked into the case on what should be her last day before taking a new job in Sweden. What an absolute joy this character is: a confident, intelligent, nicotine-gum-chewing policewoman who is *extremely* good at her job. The camera often simply lingers on her looking / seeing / thinking things through / making links / understanding (a nod to the trope often present in hard-boiled crime fiction of the ‘power of the investigative eye’). The contrasts between Lund’s methods of investigation and those of her male co-investigator are highlighted throughout (sometimes to droll comedic effect): the implication is that the different policing styles are firmly gendered, and the ‘male’ style does not come off well at all.
A small, but lovely detail is that Lund wears the same rather tatty-looking jumper throughout the first two days of the investigation (as seen above). Fashion statements are pretty much bottom of the to-do-list, which is extremely refreshing.
I haven’t seen a crime drama this powerful since watching the TV adaptation of David Peace’s Yorkshire Noir quartet – 1974 / 1977 / 1980 / 1983. I would highly recommend The Killing - it’s a significant cut above your average crime series, and was rightly lauded in Denmark where it first appeared in 2007. Fantastic Danish crime drama: who knew?
Well done (again) BBC4 – going great guns on international crime. Both episodes are available on iplayer: catch up while you have the chance and tune in next week for episode 3. I’ll definitely be there.
11 Feb: Rog has posted an audioclip of The Killing‘s theme tune (by Neptun) in the comments section below.
12 Feb: Tweet reviews
punkcinema1 – The Killing is brilliant TV. Best thing made by Denmark since Lego.
richvoorwerp – Imagine a 20 episode, complex, tightly scripted, beautifully acted, crime drama produced by British TV. The Danes can do it.
rosemarymaddy – Going to watch The Killing on BBC iplayer. If you haven’t seen it yet, and you like gritty, intelligent, crime drama, why not take a look?
If you’d like to leave a comment, please make sure there are no spoilers that might interfere with the enjoyment of others still catching up :)