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The Investigation

Søren Malliing as Jens Møller Jensen
Series about tracking down the perpetrator of a vicious murder aren't exactly at the top of my must-see list, even when the series is based on a real and widely publicized event. And, while I prefer to hear the dialogue spoken in English, some of my most compelling streamed theatergoing has required me to follow the narratives in other languages. This did enable me to brush up on my German, and learn words and phrases from other languages.

Despite less than ideal dubbing or captions, the Danish political drama Borgen was compulsively watchable. Thus, when I saw that another Danish series, The Investigation, was written and directed by Tobias Lindholm, one of Borgen's script writers, and that it featured two key Borgen players — Søren Malliing as Copenhagen's homicide head and Pilou Asaek as the lawyer tasked with finding undisputable cause for prosecuting the man who more than likely did it — I knew I had to investigate The Investigation.

The six episodes proved well worth my time, as they will for you; that is, if you're game for a crime show with an atypical storytelling approach to the genre that has dominated "most watched" lists on the small screen throughout this century.

The scenario in the perennial nutshell: The viewer follows the Copenhagen Police Department and their chief inspector Jens Møller Jensen (Søren Malliing) as they investigate an unusual case of a missing homemade submarine. The two people reported to be inside are its owner and journalist Kim Wall who apparently came aboard to interview him. However, when the submarine sinks, the owner is rescued but the journalist remains missing. Inspector Jens arrests the owner on suspicion that he killed the journalist and sunk the vessel to bury her. But obvious as it seems, subsequently uncovered details and the suspect's changing accounts turn this into a long, tedious and desperate search by the police to enable Pilou Asbaek's Jakob Buch-Jepsen to bring undisputable evidence to the court, and as much of a catharsis as is possible for Ingrid and Joachim Wall (Pernilla August and Rolf Lassgard), the victim's parents.

True crime drama fans may be put off by The Investigation's lack of a typical crime drama's more exciting elements. The only gun you'll see fired is when Jens, to relieve his own tension, takes his dog and a rifle into an empty field and shoots down birds. But ultimately the work and determination shown by the police team — Maibritt Porse (Laura Christensen), Musa Amin (Dulfi Al-Jabouri), Nikolaj Storm (Hans Henrik Clemensen), a group of divers who kept braving the sea's increasingly colder and darker depths — makes for a richly compelling new take on the crime genre.

The cast couldn't be better. Like the stunningly filmed procedures, they capture the intensity of the case as well as how its emotional effect on their characters — all without showcasing.

Søren Malliing's bespectacled Jens quietly and convincingly inhabits the chief trying keeping the procedural from disintegrating. He must also deal with constant calls from the press and meet regularly with the Walls whose interpreters, along with the rest of the cast, subtly tap into the series' rhythmic pattern.

Though he adheres to the plot as indicated by the title, Lindholm does allow for some personal detours into Jens's personal life, which has always been short-changed by his work. Though the current case at first repeats that pattern when he learns that he's about to become a grandfather, it's clear that the Walls' loss of a daughter — with whom they were deeply involved and whose child they would have cherished — will make him more of family man. This subplot does smack of contrivance, but thanks to the superb acting and filming, not enough so to keep me from urging to investigate The Investigation yourself.

P.S. Be sure to also watch HBO's special brief feature The Investigation: The Story Behind the headlines and the two podcasts.

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The Investigation
Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm
Søren Malliing as Jens Møller Jensen; Pilou Asbaek as Jakob Buch-Jepsen; Pernilla August as Ingrid Wall; Rolf Lassgard as Joachim Wall; Laura Christensen as Maibritt Porse; Dulfi Al-Jabouri as Musa Amin; Hans Henrik Clemensen Hans as Nikolaj Storm
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer