Sunday, 10 October 2021

TV review: The Chestnut Man, Netflix (2021)

I watched this thing right through in one night from about 7.30pm. My reason for doing this is because a suitable Saturday night rerun was missing and I didn’t want to watch ‘Grantchester’. ‘The Chestnut Man’ is a competent Danish police procedural that includes an uncopy-able twist that’ll have other filmmaker writhing with jealousy. If you tried to do a similar thing since this was made you’d immediately be accused of plagiarism. On the other hand you won’t see it coming.

Danica Curcic is Naia Thulin, a Copenhagen detective who’s been given the job of looking after Mark Hess (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), a detective who’s been overseas but who’d been sent back home due to an affair that isn’t amplified through detail enough to make a difference. Initially Hess is lackadaisical and uncommitted but becomes intensely focused on the case of the deaths of two women under horrific circumstances. Together, Thulin and Hess get down to work to crack the case, which involves a politician, Rosa Hartung (Iben Dorner).

What themes are investigated in this drama? Well, the media and the political class come out looking distinctly stale. There’s something about the woman who plays Rosa’s boss, the prime minister (Signe Vaupel), and the man who plays Hartung’s assistant, Frederik Vogel (Morten Brovn) that puts the viewer in mind of birds of carrion. Loyalty isn’t prized as highly as popularity and, you feel, the only thing keeping Rosa in power is her pull with voters. More sympathetic is Rosa’s husband Steen (Esben Dalgaard Andersen), who touchingly never gives up on the idea that their daughter – who’d been deemed to have been killed by a psychotic pervert a year before the timeline starts – is still alive.

Running through the six episodes it takes the show to reach its climax is the issue of violence against children. This theme is even elaborated in Thulin’s family life as her daughter Le (Liva Forsberg) expresses a desire to live with her “grandfather” (Anders Hove), a man who’d earlier in Thulin’s life cared for the policewoman and who now functions as a buttress in the child’s existence. This is creased by her mother’s regular overtime work, something that Le resents. Rosa’s son (Louis Næss-Schmidt) is also sometimes unhappy with his parents, and especially resents how his father drinks.

So ‘The Chestnut man’ canvasses worthy sentiments. Other than that, the script is solid and the acting good. Ten points. Worth a watch, definitely.

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