The Same Sky (3 stars)

The Same Sky

Sofia Helin in The Same Sky / credit: Bernd Schuller

Beautifully shot and well-acted portrayal of Germany in 1974

For fans of Scandi Noir, the return of Sofia Helin to our screens is cause for celebration. As idiosyncratic Malmö cop Saga Norén, she was a large part of The Bridge's appeal before it ended in 2018. This latest Walter Presents production, The Same Sky, was made in 2017 but finally arrives for its UK debut. A German production (albeit shot in Prague), it zeroes in on the Germany of 1974, a divided country in which the Cold War is raging like it's 1962. There's also a football World Cup to be played for, held in West Germany, with the two nations set to clash in the early rounds. Meanwhile, Don't Look Now is tearing up Berlin's arthouse cinemas and everyone seems to be listening to Bowie.

Helin plays Lauren, a divorced data analyst in the employ of Britain's secret service, who is targeted by the East via young operative Lars (Tom Schilling). His assignment is to seduce her and send back as much sensitive information as he can gather during pillow talk. Elsewhere, a talented young swimmer is aiming to reach the East's national squad with the long-term goal of representing her country at a future Olympics: but how far will her coach and family allow her to go in the name of sporting glory? Plus, a popular science teacher puts everything at risk by getting involved with a radical group attempting to tunnel its way through a bakery and into the West.

Unlike other European dramas such as The Bridge or The Killing, the many narrative strands here exist not so much to be pulled together in a dramatic conclusion, but purely to paint a wider picture of 1970s Germany. So, while the denouement of The Same Sky might bring some storylines to closure, one major plot is left dangling. Frustratingly so given that there are no plans for a further series. But this is still a beautifully shot and well-acted portrayal of a country at vicious war with itself.

More4, starts on Friday 23 October, 9pm; all episodes available on All 4 from 10pm.

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