fri 22/11/2019

Blue Eyes, More4 | reviews, news & interviews

Blue Eyes, More4

Blue Eyes, More4

Taut and topical, Blue Eyes is more substantial than the typical Scandi noir

Annika Nilsson (Anna Bjelkerud) addresses the crowd

Blue Eyes, the latest imported Swedish drama, has a lot of hype to live up to. After Borgen, Wallander, The Killing and the rest, Scandi noir is scarcely a novelty in itself. Yet Blue Eyes brings the ultra-topical subject of the far right and the immigration debate to the more familiar territory of murders in sun-starved pinescapes. More dramatic still, it depicts the rise of an anti-immigration political party in the country that has been, until recently at least, Europe’s beacon of tolerance and openness. As such, it should be both a sharply contemporary political drama and a moody whodunnit with good cheekbones.

On the evidence of last night’s show, both concept and execution are taut and finely structured, with domestic and political plausibly woven together. There has already been one mysterious disappearance in a dank wood, so fans of traditional Scandi noir won’t be disappointed. But it’s connected to mysterious political manoeuvring, and it’s in the tense space where individual character, party politics and seething social resentments coalesce that Blue Eyes seems destined to shine.

Blue EyesThe most original creation so far has been Annika Nilsson (Anna Bjelkerud), grandmother, careworker and local representative of the far-right Trygghetspartiet, or Security Party. It’s not so much that any one of her characteristics is unusual, but that the subtlety and even-handedness with which her genuine concerns about working-class Swedes are set against a much more cynical party machinery, while her family wrestles with the consequences of her stance in a society that still likes to think itself tolerant. It was a shame she was murdered so early on, although but her daughter Sofia – already dealing with an abusive partner – takes her central role forward with interest. 

In the mainstream political world, meanwhile, events so far are rather more conventional, and it’s too early to say whether the scheming and subterfuge develops into anything more original. However, the role of Elin Hammar (Louise Peterhoff, pictured above), an apparently naive young waitress drafted into the Minister of Justice’s office to take the place – without asking any awkward questions – of the woman lost in the wood bodes well for the future. Of course, the first thing she does is poke her nose into the mystery, and it stinks. So far, the far-right politicians seem more decent than those in the centrist coalition government.

The show’s writer, Alex Haridi, began work on this script long before Sweden’s real right-wingers had achieved significant success, and has thus been lauded for his prescience. The more excitable previews have been even mentioned the W-word: The Wire, that vast and rightly celebrated televisual portrait of Baltimore’s threadbare, drug-addled and obscenely violent social fabric. That series’ bloodshed is surely on a scale not seen in Western Europe since 1945, and Blue Eyes won’t have the time for The Wire’s epic horizons. Its virtues are quieter and less showy, though not necessarily less skilful. It’s more like a hybrid of Happy Valley and House of Cards, blending the authentic social range of the one with the scheming political devilment of the other. It probably has more to say about the social contract than either, and that’s more than you’ll find on any other channel on a Friday night.

@matthewwrighter

The far-right politicians seem more decent than those in the centrist coalition government

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature

★★★★★

A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway

 

Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.

 

★★★★★

This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman

 

Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.

 

Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.