Enter the realm of Nordic Crime

Between the moment when I finished watching the last episode of the newly released Deadwind on Netflix and starting to write these lines, I had to take a small brake to let my giddiness and enthusiasm fade away and to put my ideas in order, so I don’t sound like an overly excited school-girl. If you are planning on entering autumn properly, on immerging into the season of cold and darkness already, the Finnish production Deadwind is an extremely good choice. It will wrap you up in a mist of uncertainty and mystery, it will absorb you into its eerie atmosphere and give you the feeling that you must tread carefully into the frosty nights of the North.

I usually prefer European films and TV shows over their American counterparts, but among the film-makers in Europe it seems the Nordics hold the best recipes for crime shows and thrillers. Known as Karppi in its home country, Deadwind follows the steps of detective Sofia Karppi (Pihla Viitala) and her partner Sakari Nurmi (Lauri Tilkanen) who are investigating the death of a woman found buried near the construction site of a project developed by a company named Tempo, on whose ability to propose a new means of obtaining green energy depends the approval for construction from the City Council of Helsinki.

The victim is quickly identified as one of the consultants involved in Tempo’s project in more than one way. As the investigation proceeds, suspicion will be transferred from one man to another among the family who owns Tempo and their circle of partners and opponents. Uncovering Anna’s murderer will take time and serious efforts on the sides of Karppi and Nurmi, as they will kick more than one hornet’s nest revealing the wrong-doings of several dishonest business men and criminals, a complexity of the plot which the creators have exploited brilliantly over the span of 12 episodes. There is no predictability all the way to the last chapter of the series, and the uncovering of the murderer at the end was a definitely a surprise.

Personal drama and human relations weren’t overlooked by the creators of the show, but their true merit lies in creating realistic anti-heroes and taking their distance from the American hero – villain dichotomy which is so hard to swallow. Sofia doesn’t give too much of a warm welcome to the team to Sakari and their initial collaboration is filled with tension. Clearly affected by her husband’s recent death, Sofia will take a few wrong steps and will come very near a breakdown before she realizes that she will not be able to solve the case unless Nurmi and herself work as equal partners. The developments in their relationship illustrate the Nordic way of interacting between people with short lines, straight-forward statements, slow and wary revealments of feelings and actions stronger than words rather than romantic gestures and declarations. Family issues and social problems are also depicted through the hardship Sofia’s step-daughter has to go through as a teenager and the disputes between the man behind the Tempo project and his wife.

The creators of Deadwind spared no means to keep their audience on the edge of their seats and to make their hearts race. Scenes full of suspense supported by a matching soundtrack are interspersed at intervals, but throughout the entire series a feeling of insanity is hovering above the plot as the source of such a minutely planned crime. Even religious mysticism comes to play a part in the wanderings of this criminal mind.

For the viewers who have already been to Finland, the show is also a visual revisiting of some famous landmarks in Helsinki such as Tuomiokirkko or Kauppatori with its emblematic building of the City Townhall. The Finland in the film (the personification is intentional) is exactly like the Finland in real life: very often dark, mysterious, a bit wild, but extremely modern, a place where you can never know what will come next. But then again, what better place to dive into the cold seasons than in the enchanted story land of the suomi?