BluRay/DVD Reviews

DETECTIVE INSPECTOR IRENE HUSS

By • Aug 18th, 2013 •

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Two 3-packs of the popular Swedish TV crime series are now available. Each episode runs about an hour and a half. Featured is Angela Kovacs as a police detective with the violent crimes unit, who is also into ju-jitsu, as well as raising a teenage daughter. Which is the more demanding? To judge by episode ten, raising her daughter. But we’ll get back to that.

The series is produced by the team that developed THE GIRLWITH THE DRAGON TATOO. It has similar leanings – severe crimes, perverse sexual content, youth culture butting up against the establishment. Missing is DRAGON TATOO’s overwhelming sense of style. And that is a mitigating problem here, because as well-written as it at times is, as well shot and directed, it still never quite escapes feeling too familiar, and a bit retro in terms of content and impact. Also, Ms. Kovacs is not particularly sympathetic, and that keeps us at arms-length from the emotional investment we must make to keep coming back.

There are three directors utilized in these six episodes, and I tried each of them specifically to see if different guiding hands might change what I perceived as the show’s distance. There are differences, to be sure – Emiliano Goessens’ RING OF SILENCE, for example, is more colorful, and Ms. Kovacs looks prettier than she does in the Richard Holm helmed THE HIDDEN WATCHER. But the differences are not varied enough to make a meaningful impact. I think the fault lies with the producers’ overriding concept for the show. It doesn’t shirk strong material: in RING OF SILENCE, when an autopsy is performed on a dead, tortured teen found in a garbage bin, we learn that the contents of his stomach contain feces and urine. That’s worse than what came out of the shark’s stomach in JAWS. And it stays in the back of our minds as Huss’s daughter becomes involved with the perpetrators of the crime (episode ten).

I like the title song, sung in English. There’s violence, blood, and a smattering of nudity. The casting, while pleasant, isn’t quirky enough, for example, to qualify as ‘noir.’ Also, interestingly, I rarely felt like I was in Sweden. Meaning I don’t think that unique indigenous locales are used often enough.

If you enjoy comfortable, been-there-before police stories with good third act reveals, you’ll be happy with IRENE HUSS. If you need more modern, visceral, stylistic brush-strokes, you should probably search elsewhere, and MHz Networks is putting out quite a few of these kinds of series to choose from.

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