Saturday, February 1, 2020

TWIN: Kristoffer Metcalfe's excellent Norwegian TV series hits streaming via MHz

Mention a movie or TV series about twins, add a dose murder (or accidental death) and, for many of us, Bette Davis in melodramas such as A Stolen Life (1946) or Dead Ringer (1964) come immediately to mind. Don't expect anything so mundane or downright silly from the crackjack new TV series via Norway entitled simply TWIN. Sure, the series begins with those identical siblings, estranged for years but now reunited due to circumstances brought on by one of the twin's irresponsible behavior.

Again, sure enough, before even the first episode is over, you can bet that either twin Erik or twin Adam will no longer be among the living.

Created, co-written and directed (four of the eight episodes) by Kristoffer Metcalfe, shown at left, the series seems to be going along rather predictably until soon enough, you're aware that all is not quite, surface-wise or otherwise, what it appears to be.

Granted, there's usually a nice one and a naughty one in these "twin"epics, but here you may be surprised to find that there seem to be only naughty ones afoot.

Bad behavior is on view not just from the twins themselves but from many of the folk surrounding them, who have plenty going on, as well. Motives are mixed, to say the least. Which is what we ought to expect, but seldom get, from television pretending to be remotely "truthful" regarding human behavior.

Most "twin" stories double as character studies, but Metcalfe's series doubles down on this, as -- via flashbacks and a plot that slowly unravels then reassembles -- we learn more and more about who these characters really are. Both twins are played very well by Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju, shown above and below, and best known for his role in Game of Thrones.

Who was the now dead twin and what did he know that the still-alive twin must very quickly learn in order to properly impersonate him? All this makes for an increasingly alert and suspenseful eight hours, none of which seems in any way overlong and encompasses everything from religion and sleazy business dealings to sexuality and parenting (much of it pretty bad).

In addition to Adam and Erik, we get to know Adam's complicated wife, very well portrayed by Rebekka Nystabakk (above), their increasingly troubled daughter (newcomer Mathilde Holtedahl Cuhra, below, right) and Erik's best friend, a kindly but not terribly by-the-rules local cop, played by Gunnar Eiriksson.

The character essayed by Eiriksson (shown below, left) also brings up one of the series' weak points: how conveniently the town's police department forgives -- over and over again -- the mistakes and deliberate obfuscations made by this young police officer. Against all that's good about Twins, however, I suspect you'll be willing to admit, then overlook, this failing.

Family and its major importance comes into play in ways negative and positive, and as the series proceeds, it takes on increasing weight and power, as characters -- often against their will but forced into it -- grow and change. And the finale, rather than disappoint us, as do so many of these current shows, is handled with exactly the proper subtlety and grace. Twin is something special. Seek it out and enjoy.

You can view the series -- which begins this coming Tuesday, February 4, and includes eight episodes -- via MHz Choice. Click here for more information on this streaming home for international television, and here for more info on the Twin series itself.

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