Hot on the heels of our write up on Nordic Noir’s superb Scandinavian series ‘Trapped‘, we were offered the opportunity to check out another, rather different show. Of course, I jumped at the chance. After all, Scandinavian crime-dramas are building one hell of a reputation, and ‘Follow The Money’ certainly doesn’t let the side down. Whilst subtitled television isn’t for everyone, I genuinely think that even your average Joe on the sofa would find it hard not to binge-watch this one.
‘Follow The Money’ (or Bedrag for any Scandinavian natives out there) revolves around a Danish energy company called Energreen and their fraudulent dealings, but it’s far more complicated than that, as we simultaneously follow three sides of this twisted story of deceit. At the head of the company is Alexander Sødergren (Nikojal Lie Kaas), a man who is seemingly very good at getting people to like him, and equally as good at getting people to do his dirty work. When he plucks Claudia Moreno (Natalie Madueño) from the legal department at Energreen and offers her the high life, she shows no hesitation in doing his bidding to cheat the stock market. On the other side of the coin, we have perennial Scandi-series actor Thomas Bo Larsen as detective Mads Justesen, who joins up with the Fraud Squad, intent on nailing Energreen and its corrupt executives. And finally, we meet Nicky (Esben Smed Jensen), a young mechanic whose petty crimes land him in the middle of the whole mess.
Now, I know I may have made that all sound rather tricky to take on board, and admittedly, early on in the series I was a little bewildered by all the different stories. However, by episode 4 or 5, you’ll be well and truly hooked, believe me. The key to this, for me, was the authenticity of the show. The acting really doesn’t feel like acting at all, and of course, we all know the idea of a fraudulent big-money business isn’t too far-fetched. ‘Follow The Money’ is a real 21st Century crime story of greed, deception and power, with a little bit of murder along the way.
The ensemble cast all perform to perfection, so much so that it’s tough to pick a standout but I have to give special praise to Natalie Madueño (pictured above) whose transformation throughout the series from a timid legal assistant to a ruthless big-shot is one of incredible authenticity. By the end of the series I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for her or call the police myself. Opposite her, Nikojal Lie Kaas is instantly detestable, which I guess should be commended. Kaas successfully portrays two sides to his character – the charmer with friends in high places, and the sleazy criminal that we love to hate. Conversely, Thomas Bo Larsen – who is brilliant as always – is exactly the hero that this show needs, and along with Thomas Hwan, the pair strike up a bromance that really gives the viewer someone to root for.
Aesthetically speaking, ‘Follow The Money’ isn’t exactly laden with stunning shots and beautiful landscapes, opting instead for close ups and intense still shots which allow the viewer to scrutinise each character. The musical accompaniment, composed by Tobias Wilner, is outstanding and reminded me a lot of the work of my favourite composer at the moment Jóhann Jóhannsson (Sicario, Prisoners); high praise indeed.
‘Follow The Money’ isn’t the typical Scandinavian whodunit that we’ve become accustomed to. This is more of a “how-catch-em” (I’m good at making up phrases, I know), where the writers have clearly gone through a lengthy and very intensive process to develop the story in such a way that we’re just waiting for the cat to get the rat, urging old moggy on. We know the rats are dirty, they know they’re dirty, but it’s all about proving it and the team behind ‘Follow The Money’ have shown great delicacy in setting up this narrative. Luckily, this means that there’s none of the “who’s this guy again?” moments that might come with a murder mystery – which is especially helpful considering the foreign language aspect.
For hardened Nordic viewers, this is a breath of fresh air, something a little different to usual yet just as addictive. For any Nordic novices however, I reckon this to be an ideal series to ease you into the subtitled world of Scandinavia. And just to make it even easier, ‘Follow The Money’ is now available on DVD here in the UK.
Creator(s): Jeppe Gjervig Gram, Jannik Tai Mosholt, Anders Frithiof August
Starring: Natalie Madueño, Thomas Bo Larsen, Nikojal Lie Kaas, Esben Smed Jensen