Borderliner / Grenseland

One of the newest television dramas to come from Norway, Borderliner begins as your run-of-the-mill crime series. However, unlike other crime series that leave you guessing until the very end, Borderliner resolves the crime within the first two episodes. What this series is about, rather, is the complicated family drama that slowly unveils itself throughout the resolution of the case, resulting in a tense dynamic that is hard to predict.

The police investigator Nikolai Andreassen returns to his hometown after having testified against a corrupt colleague in Oslo and being forced to take some time off to let the event cool down. However, his aim of taking a break from police work and being able to spend some time with his family quickly ends when the small town is shaken by a crime that at first looks like a suicide. Andreassen finds himself assigned to the case (despite not employed in the town), and as he begins to dig into the victims past, his brother Lars starts to be continuously mentioned. Lars had spent the night before out getting drunk with the victim, and sources confirm the two got into a fight. The real cause behind the death is unveiled, and while Nikolai, the stand-up officer he is, wants to tell the truth, his sympathy for his brother overcomes him, and instead he finds himself trying to cover the tracks that link his brother to the crime. In episode two, we start to realise their father is equally involved, though much more mysterious than Lars, and there is a much larger operation at play here. Meanwhile, Nikolai’s partner on the case begins to discover that Nikolai is covering something.

Borderliner has a promising start, and it’s hard to guess how it all ends. This character-driven plot introduces many figures in this rural town, and the tense father/son relationship shows there’s something being kept secret from Nikolai. The title refers to the border between Norway and Sweden, only hinted at in the first two episodes, but certainly feeling like it’ll become important.

Furthermore, it uses an old Scandinavian trope of the small towns as being backwards and dangerous, as seen in the 1996 film Hunters and other crime series. This is a low-budget production, and some scenes do show it. But creativity is key here, and Borderliner leaves you wanting more.

This review is in the March issue of Cinema Scandinavia. 


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Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.