Nordic Noir Combination of Mystery & Modern Family
By G G Collins (Copyright 2016)
Dicte is a wounded soul struggling to be different kind of mother than hers. She is a victim of an overly religious upbringing. Because she had a child out of wedlock, her Jehovah’s Witnesses parents took her baby and shunned her. This however is not the main focus of the series, but the thing that both haunts and drives her.
Having divorced, Dicte Svendsen—deftly played by Iben Hjejle—has returned to her hometown of Aarhus where she works as a crime reporter for the newspaper Dagbladet. She lives with her teenage daughter (Emilie Kruse). Her close friends are played by Lene Maria Christensen and Laerke Winther Andersen. One is pregnant with a cheating husband, the other works at a hospital. I particularly liked Anderson performance. She has a compelling presence. It’s difficult to look away when she’s in a scene.
In the first season Dicte discovers the body of a woman who died after a C-section. She meets Inspector Wagner (Lars Brygmann, Robert Festival Best Actor nominee) and becomes involved in the investigation. Wagner isn’t immediately enamored by Dicte saying at one point, partially serious, that she should be monitored by the police. Her need to find the truth and report it often intrudes into his inquiry. Brygmann is a delight to watch, his character can be both sensitive and annoyed simultaneously. His is a subtle performance with powerful emotions he tries to hide. He longs for more time with his son who left for the States with his Hollywood mother. Brygmann lives alone in a sterile house he almost never inhabits.
At the newsroom, Dicte is in almost constant conflict with her editor who in reality actually gets her. In season two, characters leave and are replaced, leaving one wondering if Dicte has a future in this job, but I won’t tell tales out of the office.
Dar Salim plays Bo Skytte, the photojournalist at the paper. He and Dicte have one of the most stable relationships in her life, but not without its challenges.
Dicte’s life promises to become even more complicated as her daughter is set to graduate soon, her ex-husband shows up and begins an affair with Dicte’s best friend. Her father contacts her out of the blue. During it all, she continues to search for the truth—almost at any cost—as her friendship with Wagner becomes more defined.
Ultimately it is Iben Hjejle’s performance as Dicte that encourages binge-watching of this fine series. Her character stubbornly feels she is right all the time at the price of damaged relationships and her own feelings of well being. It is observing her emotional thrashing about as she grows and softens that makes us love Dicte.
Dicte is based on the series by author Elsebeth Egholm. Each 45-minute episode is told in two parts. See season one and two on Netflix now. Season three to follow—soon I hope.