Its good to see the Danish/Swedish co production of The Bridge back on our screens. A successful enduring series needs a memorable detective be him a scruffy sleuth like Colombo or a social inadequate like Saga Loren played by Sofia Helin. The Killing set the tone with Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol) with her trademark fairisle sweaters and unglamorous life style. The Bridge took it one step further as Saga Loren has Asbergers syndrome and a directness that causes communication problems in the workplace and out of it . However she is a in extremity capable detective and indeed her dogged persistence, obsessive dedication to her job and intuitiveness may stem from the condition.
On the Rust we are encouraged to introduce a personal encounter and I have in fact met Sofia Helin. She was at a symposium of Nordic noir in Shoreditch. One attendee bagged a seat in the front row so he could be upfront and personal with the lovely Sofia, went to the loo and lost his seat. A fight broke out between the two. She was asked about the famous scene when she wants to have sex with her partner when his mother was staying and sleeping nearby. He is reluctant so she promptly excites herself. As an American I have always detected a certain diffidence but curiously in sexual matters in the British psyche so I was not surprised by the question of how she played
out this scene. She said it was totally improvised, but does an English audience have a problem with masturbation? From my perception she seemed a well-rounded married woman – a long way distant from the role she played.
This series begins with a murder in a logistic factory of a Danish businesswoman who is involved in a gender neutral children’s nursery. She is married to another woman but has a disturbed child by a previous marriage to Villy. Because of the Danish element and the nature of these series Saga is assigned a Danish detective Hanne Thomsen with whom she has a stretched relationship. There are various other plot threads which are yet to unravel including a Swedish cop who seems rather sinister and is assigned to the Saga after Hanne Thomsen leaves the case.
The Killing and Nordic noir have done much for continental drama and subtitles. It was long thought – and we Americans with our indigenous chauvinistic film industry – fostered this myth that an audience won’t take subtitles. In fact it allows you to concentrate more. Saga in particular has a studied, shuffling gait and quizzical eyes which add to her personality. She is extremely beautiful but totally unglamourous, her only concession to sex appeal is her Porsche sports car. Like Wallander it’s dark often disturbing stuff, a reflection of a society which is politically correct but does not appear joyous. The Bridge has high production values with much shot outdoors on location like the best of Thames 70s drama. You can follow it in I- Player but I know where I will be at 9.00 pm on Saturdays.