tue 25/02/2020

Midnight Sun, Sky Atlantic | reviews, news & interviews

Midnight Sun, Sky Atlantic

Midnight Sun, Sky Atlantic

Multinational mayhem inside the Arctic Circle

A very cold case: detectives Kahina Zadi (Leïla Bekhti) and Rutger Burlin (Peter Stormare)

You can just hear Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, the clever-sick Swedes behind Midnight Sun, cackling as they cooked up the pre-title sequence to the first episode of their new series. A grizzled man in a grey suit wakes up to find himself strapped to a helicopter rotor-blade. The engine starts. What follows is enough to give anyone quite a turn.

Blood and vomit are everywhere in this curtain-raiser. Rutger Burlin (Peter Stormare), the initial investigator, throws up twice (the human fall-out is disgusting) and his deputy’s daughter yawns in Technicolor all over her daddy, having over-indulged at a party to celebrate Midsummer’s Eve. We are in Kiruna, inside the Arctic Circle, so all the darkness is internalised. Even the earth itself, violated by unscrupulous mining for iron ore, is heaving.

The diabolic duo create a pervasive sense of unease

The headless victim turns out to be a French national. Kahina Zadi (Leïla Bekhti), a detective given to self-harm, reeling from the appearance of a distraught young man on her Belleville doorstep saying “I am not your brother”, is only too happy to flee Paris – but not before visiting the dead man’s stunning home, a mini Pompidou Centre. Thus the stage is set for another complex co-production in which mysterious titbits are flung around while two ignorant armies (in this case Swedish and French) clash by night.

Mårlind and Stein earned their stripes on The Bridge, so the production is slick as well as sick. Elsewhere in the awesome landscape (the real star of the show) a naked man in chains slowly bleeds while slavering wolves begin to circle. His last word is, apparently, “wolverine”, a creature that always eats the head of its prey first. It seems brain juice is just as tasty as the pomegranate-flavoured Quark drunk by Anders (Gustaf Hammarsten, pictured below), the ginger deputy prosecutor charged with chaperoning Kahina.

Gustaf Hammarsten in Midnight Sun, Sky AtlanticThe diabolic duo also direct their own scripts, emphasising the emptiness of corridors and streets – as well as the wilds of Lapland – to create a pervasive sense of unease. Their bizarre sense of humour reveals itself when Rutger and a woman who proves to be his wife are caught in a clinch in a deserted classroom. The cop-shop has been temporarily relocated to a school. The townsfolk have been bussed out for their own safety. Meanwhile the earth continues to move.

The viewer, like the police, is left to pick up the pieces of a very sticky jigsaw. The bigger picture should emerge over the next seven weeks. Fingers crossed it doesn’t turn out to be just another bloody mess.

A naked man in chains slowly bleeds while slavering wolves begin to circle


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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