Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Bridge: Episode 3 and 4 - A furrowed brow, a creepy atmosphere and some quite nice interiors

Dark and absorbingly complicated crime thriller The Bridge is continuing to draw us deeper into its dark and troubling murder investigation to find a serial killer trying to make some sort of point about the ills of society or something - but sometimes it's not quite clear what exactly is going on.

And while that's a characteristic of its genre blah blah blah - in a thriller we're not meant to know everything, and sometimes it's enough to just enjoy the thrill of the ride - the densely plotted and multi-stranded events take a fair bit of concentration to keep up with, and it's likely your brow will be furrowed by the end of each two-episode chunk.

That's not a problem of course, and in fact it's partly why we're all here: we all secretly feel a bit clever about enjoying subtitled Scandinavian drama, meaning we love it all the more.

But it's unusual, at least for tv-ooh, for the source of a weekend bedtime headache to come from challenging foreign drama rather than, say, a pitcher of mojito.

Stylish appearance

They're looking in different directions symbolically
One thing The Bridge has in its favour is that it consistently looks stunning - the grim urban setting of Malmo and Copenhagen we see in the programme might not match the images we're familiar with through the sparkly vista of tourism - or, more likely, emotionally-stricken ABBA videos - but the built-up city sprawl, and the presence of the homeless and dispossessed, contrasts starkly with some amazing interiors.

Even the odd-ball geeky-looking character who appears to have ordered a samurai sword from Amazon, in order to carry out some despicable act or other, and also took in Anja, the sad and vulnerable runaway and made us wonder if he was going to kill her violently, has a stand-alone lamp that could sort of pass for retro in his otherwise barren apartment.

Elsewhere, Saga's open plan one-bedroom flat looks like it's straight from an Ikea layout as she eats cereal while perched on her kitchen worktop, with her carefully-positioned lamps aimed for maximum mood.

She might have an unspecified inability to read social cues but she knows her way around a smart flat.

And the addition of an inquisitive naked man whose name she doesn't recall and the pictures of an autopsy on her laptop are characteristics unique to Sage, rather than statements in interior design, we're learning.

That hair that looked like a wig? It was a wig

Meanwhile the vast, stylish, bare and slightly sterile-looking glass-heavy space of
the home of Charlotte Söringer, the brittle widow of Goran Söringers who died in episode two (and who revealed that her stiff blonde hair that looked liked a wig was in fact actually a wig all the time) has one of those homes you only ever see in serious dramas; while Anja's estranged parents - both of them - each have rain-splatted homes that are probably the art director's intention to comment on their character's isolation and loneliness and whatnot. If that was the intention, they've achieved it.
Charlotte Soringer: It was a wig all along

Even so, Kevin McCloud's Grand Designs would have a field-day peering around these places, asking probing questions about the choice of worktop.

However favourite interior design award goes to lead cop Martin: his wood-panelled, glass-fronted den-style family home always seems warm and inviting, and is probably the only place where the viewer might feel anything approaching 'safe' in this show, despite his family problems and his teenage son August, who seems to think the serial-killer his father's trying to catch has a point.

Martin and his fellow lead detective Saga are turning into a double act - although double acts by their nature always feature one half who gets more attention, and Saga's leather trousers and rock-star boots and her nippy olive green Porsche only slightly eclipse Martin's sensible rain jacket and vasectomy in the attention-grabbing stakes. 

But only just.

Blank expressions

Copenhagen-based cop Martin - now discovering his wife is pregnant again having just had that vasectomy - is the dependable everyman with regular problems many of us can recognise, while Saga's unspecified condition that prevents her from reading social cues is both a help and a hindrance, both in her on-screen police work whenever negotiation is required, and also in her characterisation.

We're only on episode four (of 10) and yet Saga's blank expressions, or the 'double takes' of the people around her as they react to those blank expressions or her literal interpretations of what she hears, is already becoming quite familiar - we get it! She doesn't read social cues as well as others! 

Obviously the show wasn't made to be watched two episodes a time, so you can forgive these reminders, or the fact that it might be an intention to show the realities of someone's life with this condition - but even so - we get it!

That's a minor gripe, and the show now seems to be a sort of clever-clogs catch-the-killer runabout jumping between Sweden and Denmark, although it's hard to know which country we're in at any one time.

The killer, who, you'll remember, is quite the multi-tasker: he knows how to build websites, operate a video camera which is hooked up to a live web feed, has access to a nice line of lairs in abandoned warehouses and was organised enough that he pre-record his messages to police and to the public three years ago using a professional actor, and has access to boxes of poisoned alcohol to distribute to unsuspecting homeless people, while also having a grasp of medical knowledge to administer a drip in order to bleed someone to death, slowly.

And judging by the glimpses we get of the man who we presume is the killer, he's also quite good at standing motionless by a large window looking out over the decaying urban sprawl of a failing society and that, towards a view of the Bridge. Which is of course, The Bridge of the title.

It's creepy. And that's why we're hooked.

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1 comment:

  1. Where can I get the lyrics to the theme song of 'The Bridge'?