- Brian Donaldson
- 22 January 2021
With empathy and compassion a new Danish drama compellingly tracks a notorious real-life murder investigation
When The Killing reinvigorated TV crime drama on British screens just over a decade ago, it sparked a revival in the genre and inspired a new appreciation of subtitled programming. Many other shows have come and gone in the interim period, but just as we have reached a similar peak when it comes to fictionalised true crime on the small screen, back come the Scandis with a work that raises the bar once again.
The Investigation tells the story of the disappearance, murder and hunt for Swedish journalist Kim Wall who went missing in 2017 after interviewing a Danish entrepreneur aboard his homemade submarine. Tobias Lindholm's six-parter is a compelling and complex drama in and of itself but achieves its full, devastating effect with one simple yet bold decision: not only do we never see an actor playing the killer, leaving us devoid of probably moody and angry interrogation scenes, his name is not uttered once.
As with The Pembrokeshire Murders from earlier this month, the story is focused firmly on the difficult job done by police, forensics, medics, lawyers and the divers who plunged into the sea to uncover crucial bits of evidence (though with that ITV drama, they also had Keith Allen doing his Keith Allen thing in portraying the murderer). This affords The Investigation a calm dignity which still gets to the heart of a murder case while paying humble respects to the deceased and her parents. There are also eye-catchingly sensitive performances from Søren Malling as lead detective Jens Moller, Pilou Asbæk as lead prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen who keeps probing at the police to make his case stronger, and Pernilla August and Rolf Lassgård as Kim's parents, Ingrid and Joachim.
Sure, there will be some who might be inclined to switch off when the discussion about currents, tides and waves gets highly technical over the course of several minutes, but Lindholm sticks to his principle of making this as authentic as possible (some of the divers who took part in the search for underwater clues are featured here, plus the Wall family dog Iso plays the part of himself with some relish).
The Investigation refuses to manipulate the emotions of its viewers with made-up scenes, interactions and characters, as well as eschewing that tired old trope of over-used heartstring-pulling music. Instead, like any good police enquiry it sticks to the facts and portrays procedures with painstaking sobriety. In what we hope will be a new era where the truth actually counts for something, The Investigation leads the way with empathy and compassion without sacrificing the elements that make for compelling television drama.
BBC Two, starts Friday 22 January, 9pm.