As somebody who hasn't really sat down to watch a episodic mini-series in ages, I came to Thicker Than Water with fresh eyes. Produced in 2013 by Swedish Television, it appears to have come on the back of the success of the big-screen Stieg Larssen Millenium films and certainly contains a fair amount of sexual tension and subtext that belongs more potently in a cinematic world. That said, there is sufficient in Thicker Than Water to entice fans weaned on other successes like The Bridge.
This DVD collection of 10 episodes, lasting approximately one hour each, could be retitled An Unfinished Family Buisiness and encompasses much of the theme and context that the Salander phenomenon is well known for.
The backdrop is a lodging house on an island. The matriarch of the family, Anna-Lisa Waldermar (Stina Ekblad), calls her three children together, Oskar (Joel Spira) who runs the lodging house, Lasse (Bjorn Bengtsson), who owns a restaurant in Stockholm and Jonna (Aliette Opheim) , a professional actress in film and theatre, for a fateful meeting and gives them each a cryptic message pertaining to the future running of the house after she is gone. This comes a lot sooner, when she takes a rowboat out into the middle of a nearby lake and shoots herself. The legal rep regarding the will, reveals that Anna-Lisa was suffering from cancer and didn't want to prolong the agony for her children. She also reveals that the will will not be honored unless they successfully run together the lodging house from the summer till the end of September.
As is too often the case, this is just the start-off point for a lot of revelation and delayed conflicts that have emerged over the decades, with numerous hidden secrets and denials coming to the fore, not least in an issue between the
Waldemars and their closest neighbors, the Pahkinen's, who own an house on the island. Lasse is under pressure from loan sharks from the outset with major debts and has a daughter, Kim (Molly Nutley) who stays with him. There is a fair amount of sibling rivalry and an overwhelming desire to try and make things right for everyone….
We’ve provided a little bit of exposition to get you enticed into Thicker Than Water, but not enough to spoil it. Although the series can be classified as Nordic Noir, there is considerably more focus on the family drama as opposed to the noir. It is well-acted and Opheim reminds one of a blonde Kate Middleton. It certainly holds the attention. Whether or not it will hit the heights of other more high-profile series from the region remains to be seen, but purists and addicts of Scandinavian drama will find much to recommend and appreciate. We did enjoy it, but there isn't a great deal of humor in this, which heightens the serious tone.
If there is one criticism, it’s that the drama is drawn out over a longer period, when three or four episodes would have sufficed, but all in all, Thicker Than Water remains a solid, well-structured noirish drama and one that deserves to do well when it is released.
THICKER THAN WATER / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: HENRIK JANSSON-SCHWEIZER / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: JOEL SPIRA, BJORN BENGTSSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW