Copenhagen Cowboy

Copenhagen CowboyIt’s not very often that a newspaper review inspires me to watch a particular film or TV series, but I have to admit if it wasn’t for Peter Marlborough’s article in The Saturday Paper, I probably wouldn’t have watched Copenhagen Cowboy.

I’m really glad I did because it’s an extraordinary piece of work, a TV series in 6 one hour episodes, created by Nicolas Winding Refn and funded by Netflix.

Marlborough’s piece described it as “an intoxicating mixture of folklore and new digital media” and emphasised how “cool” it is, which is probably true. He clearly knows Refn’s work, but I don’t and I took a few different things from it. The story can be briefly summed up as a young woman who may have supernatural powers gets caught up with a bunch of weird people in modern day Denmark (the series is in Danish, with English subtitles), but that doesn’t tell you much.

The thing is, to give a synopsis of each episode would diminish the experience, and I don’t really know how to review Copenhagen Cowboy, other than to list some of the themes and references I detected.

Balkan folklore
Bodies fed to pigs (a weird echo for me of an episode of Mr Inbetween)
Burning alive
Child kidnapping
Chinese restaurant
Corrupt lawyers
Decayed warehouses
Drug running
Extreme violence
Fairy tales
Family secrets
Flickering neon lights
Forced prostitution
Gang wars
Grand country estates
Hive mind
Lakes and rivers
Late night diner
Martial arts
Misty forests
Modern metropolis
Nordic mythology
Psychic powers
Sex trafficking
Track suits

All of that might sound like there’s a lot going on – and there is – but it is no way hectic. Many scenes are marked by long silences and a lot of expressionless staring.

There is an accompanying 30 minute “making of”, which starts with the director assuring us it is not a “making of” (but it is), which reveals that many of the cast had not acted before, including members of the director’s family. He clearly deserves to be called an auteur, is a film festival favourite and might reasonably be compared to David Lynch in style, vision and execution.

Copenhagen Cowboy really is quite extraordinary. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it compelling and I look forward to seeking out more of Refn’s work.

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