mon 20/05/2019

The Bridge: Series Finale, BBC Four | reviews, news & interviews

The Bridge: Series Finale, BBC Four

The Bridge: Series Finale, BBC Four

Nordic noir ends as grippingly as it began

Guess who's coming to dinner: 'The Bridge''s Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) and Saga Norén (Sofia Helin)

It ended where it began, between Copenhagen and Malmö along the Öresund bridge. The journey back to square one took in issues of homelessness, mental health, immigration and child labour. Drug abuse, national identity, family break-up and the power of the media cropped up too. But none of these are what The Bridge hinged on. Without its main characters and measured pace, The Bridge could have been little more than a bleak trudge through society’s ills.

The final episode was typically understated, revealing its layers and horrors gradually. Martin Rohde’s (Kim Bodnia) son had been abducted by the Truth Teller, the killer he and Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) have been working towards identifying. Over the preceding days it became clear the real target is Rohde, whose wife the killer initially charmed and then kidnapped. The grudge about his shared history with Rohde drove the killer. It culminated on the lower level of the Öresund bridge, with the stand-off between Rohde and the killer broken by a Norén forced to do what she was encoded not to do – lie.

The Bridge Sofia Helin as Saga NorénSofia Helin’s Saga Norén is one of TV’s great creations, deftly characterised in Adam Sweeting’s review. Before The Bridge, Helin was little known outside Scandinavia. As Mia in the 2004 film Dalecarlians (Masjävlar) she was charming, a big-city adoptee returning to her small-town roots (see the film’s trailer on the next page). Like Norén, Mia was a person apart. Kim Bodnia’s Martin Rohde is less a one-off, more an encapsulation of a familiar male combination of failings, loyalty and terrier-like tenacity. He attracted attention as the drug dealer Frank in 1996’s Pusher (see the film’s trailer on the next page). Rohde might be a cop, but he’s a reconfigured, recontextualised, slowed-down take on Frank. Bodnia played Rohde to type. Both actors were instantly likeable – lovable even. You wanted to keep watching them.

What is it that sets The Bridge and its fellow Scandinavian imports apart from home-grown drama, crime or otherwise? Norén isn't that far from Homeland’s Carrie Mathison. The Bridge is a series about a killer planning and executing horrific murders, and the attendant investigation. So is Silent Witness.

 

The Bridge Kim Bodnia as Martin RohdePart of the difference is rooted in the combination of that measured approach and a focus on the character’s relationship to the events depicted. The Bridge has not been strictly about the events – they framed characters who have lives beyond the situation at hand. The Bridge – a Danish-Swedish co-production – also played with national identity. The Swedes corrected the Danes’ pronunciation of their language or made out they couldn’t understand the visitors. The Danes wereren’t fussed. The Swedish police – symbolised by the rulebook-driven Norén – were about process. Rohde and his Danish colleagues were more intuitive and, well, slobby. The Danish partner behind The Bridge does have rules though: national broadcaster DR favours basing its dramas on original scripts and stipulates they say something about society.

What matters most is that it’s a bloody fantastic programme. The non-Scandinavian entertainment industry, or whatever it’s called, recognises how great these exports are by repeatedly trying them on for size. The US remake of The Killing, Kenneth Branagh's take on Wallander and the forthcoming NBC version of Borgen flatter the original models. Inevitably, a remake of The Bridge is coming – a British-French co-production from Sky Atlantic.

The remakes are a sideshow. What’s also important is that we Brits are accepting of and embracing continental European TV. We’re looking that way for more than cinema and literature as part of our entertainment, as well as across the Atlantic. It’s about time.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch The Bridge’s Sofia Helin in the trailer for Dalecarlians (Masjävlar)

Watch The Bridge’s Kim Bodnia in the trailer for Pusher

Comments

The Branagh Wallander was almost offensive in its "emoting" and designer-stubbleness!

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters