True crime has become an extremely trendy genre in recent times. You only have to cast a cursory glance at ant of the streaming platforms, and you’ll find dozens of these documentary series on real cases but where the producers draw of the narrative techniques of drama (plot twists, cliffhangers, etc.) to get their audiences hooked on stories of crimes and murders. The more bizarre, the better. The more morbid the seedy details are, the more we lap it up. The more violent, the better. If a production can tick those three boxes, it’s a sure-fire winner.
Ok, so we know that true crime appeals to our most basic instincts, even when its intentions might be the most noble, as might be the case when it denounces injustice or gives visibility to the cracks in the system. Who among us hasn’t at some point become addicted to the virtues of “Paradise Lost”, “Making A Murderer”, “The Jinx”, “The Keepers”, “Evil Genius” “Wild, Wild Country” or “Tiger King“?, just to name a few of the most popular titles in a genre enjoying its heyday.
The story of the submarine case would have been suitable material for a true crime. In 2017 a journalist who went to interview a man who had built his own submarine disappears. The submarine was involved in an accident from which the only unscathed survivor was none other than its millionaire-manufacturer. So, this guy, now our main suspect, would easily become the center of attention of any production featuring the case under the watchful eye of the cameras, whether treated as a documentary or as a drama, would have attracted us in droves drawn to the fascination caused by the murderer, representative of evil and therefore an abyss we will watch only from the comfort of our sofas. Take for example “Mindhunter” or “Des“. But the narrator of this story, Tobias Lindholm, had a different idea. The Danish scriptwriter and director, known for having been one of the creators of “Borgen” had actually worked on the first season of “Mindhunter” with David Fincher, and had no interest in making yet another crime series. However, after a meeting with Chief of Homicide at Copenhagen PD, what he heard made him completely change his perspective.
The discussion during that interview sparked the decision to launch “The Investigation“, a miniseries that premiered a few days ago on Movistar and has nothing to do with true crime. In fact, it is almost its opposite. Rather than delving into the lurid details of the case, this miniseries shuns easy impact. There is no reconstruction of the crime. In fact, the killer doesn’t even appear. Instead, the story focuses on the investigation, concentrating on Chief of Homicide tasked with investigating the disappearance and a prosecutor who will handle the case. Both are played by actors easily-recognizable to fans of “Borgen”: Søren Malling and Pilou Asbæk, who bring their dramatic prowess to bear on the characters, wholly defined by their determination to prevent another criminal from getting off scot-free (as their involvement in another case is established to showcase their shared frustration with a system that allows such injustice).
“The Investigation” follows in extraordinarily thorough detail, the work of the homicide team to secure a conviction and the personal wear and tear from the case for all those involved, adopting a narrative pace that for many might appear slow, but which is far more consistent with the series’ intentions: allow your audience to perceive the weight of the passing days, in the style of “Forbrydelsen” (which also featured Søren Malling). The bonds that unite the stakeholders in the case, including the journalist’s parents, end up becoming the focal point of the miniseries. They each support one another in a way that isn’t focused on the darkness, but rather on the light that fights against it.