As with all Nordic noir Midnight Sun is intricately plotted, well-acted and rammed full of shocking and surprising revelations. But Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein’s drama takes the premise to extraordinary lengths, often entering territory more akin to Twin Peaks mysticism than crime procedural.
When a French national is murdered, homicide investigator Kahina Zadi (Bekhti) travels to Kiruna in the northern reaches of Sweden. An area beset by cultural issues and tensions between Swedes and the indigenous Sami descendants, Zadi must unravel a mystery that would seem to involve a considerable portion of the town’s population. Set against a time when the town’s primary source of employment, a mine, is causing the residents to be relocated, help in her quest is a little thin on the ground. Only local prosecutor Anders Harnesk (Hammarsten) appears to be on her side, and he has his own fair share of secrets and problems.
In truth, everyone in Kiruna has secrets. Despite the perpetual sunshine brought on by the time of year, shadows lurk around every corner of this outwardly sleepy town. Conspiracies exist to keep hidden dark, mysterious events from many years ago, Sami mystics offer both spiritual help and hindrance, and the barely hidden resentment between the two cultures threatens to derail any investigative progress.
Alongside the labyrinthine plot, and considerable exposition, there are gaps in the information you are provided with. Lesser stories occasionally take prominence over the central crimes, and while adding depth and intrigue to the town, can serve to further confuse an already confusing situation.
As you would expect the performances are impressive, if verging on arch at times. Midnight Sun works hard to keep its audience firmly in the dark, but in places the brooding and pouting of the numerous suspects threatens to overpower the central plot. Bekhti stands out as the troubled (aren’t they always?) detective, with hers being a role that could too easily have become unsympathetic due to her own, very personal set of issues.
Mårlind and Stein must be applauded for striving to create a series a little different from the Nordic norm, and with Midnight Sun they’ve certainly achieved their goal. Stunning to look at due to the bleak, windswept northern countryside, and flecked only briefly and intermittently with moments of lightness, this is a drama that benefits a committed and persistent viewer.
MIDNIGHT SUN / CERT: 15 / DIRECTORS: MÅNS MÅRLIND, BJÖRN STEIN / SCREENPLAY: MÅNS MÅRLIND / STARRING: LEÏLA BEKHTI, GUSTAF HAMMARSTEN, JAKOB HULTCRANTZ HANSSON / RELEASE DATE: UK RELEASE DATE TBA