Director: Simen Alsvik
Actors: Ida Elise Broch, Magnus Krepper, Cengiz Al, Helena Ødven, Jan Gunnar Røise, Viljar Knutsen Bjaadal, Ingjerd Egeberg and John Emil Jørgensrud
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The single mother Emma (Ida Elise Broch) works as a biologist in the National Nature Conservancy, and like her father and researcher Marius (Magnus Krepper), her main field is wolves. Marius is a controversial wolf researcher living in a village along the Swedish border, and his relationship with Emma is not stable either. Through brief flashbacks, we see that Emma’s childhood was anything but stable.
The State Nature Inspectorate is informed that Marius has stopped making reports on the wolf population in the village. Together with her son Leo, Emma reluctantly has to drive to the village to see if her father is all right. At the same time, the teenager Daniel disappears, and rumors that it is the wolf himself who has taken him begin to swirl. Daniel is a wolf fanatic and maintained good contact with Marius.
And then the question becomes: Is it really safe to let predators prowl around the outskirts of the village? Or is someone else behind Daniel’s disappearance, as Emma claims.
The wolf debate arouses strong emotions. Both with those who have never seen the wolf, and rural Norway who can get close to it. It’s almost a bit like the immigrant debate: It only takes one individual to destroy everyone. It is therefore ingenious of series creator Simen Alsvik to use this as a frame story. By mixing in themes related to emigration, rural opportunism and idealism, he creates a mixture that portrays little Norway in a believable way.
But “Fenris” is in many ways also reminiscent of other Norwegian crime series, in the sense that it takes time before the tension takes hold in one. A lot must be explained, there are many people to get to know, and it must be about a guilty conscience.
Moments of irritation
The first two episodes in particular are perceived as excessively tough. Over-explanatory dialogue ends up on the list of irritations. The conversations are often heavily instructive, and it becomes a little too clear which side the series creator is on in the wolf debate. The Crimean mystery quickly fades into the background. The various threads that are supposed to cast suspicion on the large gallery of people are experienced as fumbling. It is difficult to find any other motive than that it must be the wolf that has taken Daniel. Perhaps it would help to use a real crime writer or two in the writing room?
“Fenris” is not unnerving, but still has a nerve, well driven by steady actors. The cynical journalist Naim (Cengiz Al) casts suspicion on both the wolf and Marius, but also shows a sympathetic side when he steps wrong. Gone is also the charming grin of Broch from “Home for Christmas”. With this role, she shows what a versatile actress she is, and it is difficult to imagine a role she could not take on.
“Fenris” is a highly topical contemporary drama that plays on our prejudices and fears. It works best when it sticks to the drama, and doesn’t feel like the box of horrors that has been sold.
Then there is still the question of whether the wolf should be allowed to roam freely, or whether it should be killed. After watching this series, one can state that the last word in the matter has not yet been said.