Television has change into an more and more populated residence for auteurs. Seemingly impressed by the success of “Twin Peaks: The Return” and stymied by the demise of the mid-budget function movie, auteurs hold coming to mini-series TV, together with Lars von Trier resuscitating his “The Kingdom Exodus” or Olivier Assayas delivering the masterful “Irma Vep.” The extremely divisive Nicolas Winding Refn has been right here earlier than, giving followers his indulgent and ridiculous “Too Previous to Die Younger” on Prime Video in 2019. The director of “Drive” and “Solely God Forgives” jumps streaming giants over to Netflix this week with the six-episode “Copenhagen Cowboy,” Refn’s first Danish-language mission since “Pusher 3” in 2005. It is a distinctly NWR mission crammed with fetishistic pictures of violent males, an imposing rating by Cliff Martinez, and an uncommon hero in a tracksuit. Whereas I’ve usually been drawn to Refn’s blinding confidence (“The Neon Demon” feels extra underrated yearly), he’s spinning his wheels an excellent deal right here. Simply because an auteur could make a six-hour film doesn’t imply they need to.
Angela Bundalovic provides a largely one-note (deliberately) efficiency as Miu, the stone-faced hero of this journey into the felony underworld. She would not speak a lot, smile a lot, or do a lot. Actually, Refn is content material for giant chunks of “Copenhagen Cowboy” to merely linger on her unexpressive face as issues occur round her. Her character expands as required later within the collection by the story, however she’s such a clean slate for thus lengthy that it drains any potential momentum. Refn and writers Sara Isabella Johnson, Johanne Algren, and Mona Masri even give the blue tracksuit-wearing heroine a little bit of a supernatural tinge as she’s introduced as a literal good luck allure bought by a lady who needs to get pregnant and believes she has the ability to make that occur. Aside from a couple of combat scenes, Miu exists on a unique airplane from what’s occurring round her, a daring narrative alternative however one that does not match with Refn’s type, which may already really feel indifferent and is now even one step additional faraway from actuality. It would not be surprising if Miu simply disappeared in a scene or shot lasers from her useless eyes as a result of there is no inside monologue or motive to the character, which turns into a bit exhausting.
“Copenhagen Cowboy” opens with Miu being offered to the aforementioned lady who needs a toddler. She runs an underground brothel dominated by violence. All through Miu’s adventures within the Copenhagen underworld, Refn feedback on man’s base instincts, usually evaluating them to animals. When an underling is crushed, the audio combine switches to pig sounds for his pained squeals. The daddy of a vicious killer cannot cease speaking about his prick, even asking Miu if he needs to see the “cultural asset” between his legs. There is a sense that “Copenhagen Cowboy” is Refn taking his macho male archetype hero and seeing what occurs with a gender swap, however he would not dig far sufficient into that concept. Many of the concepts in “Copenhagen Cowboy” are underdeveloped, and Refn is repeating greater than he’s reinventing.
He is additionally repeating stylistically, washing “Copenhagen Cowboy” in brilliant neon blues and reds. Working with cinematographer Magnus Nordenhof Jonck, Refn takes a languid method to visible storytelling, permitting his digital camera to slowly circle a largely empty room till it virtually stumbles on a composition. Refn has reportedly revealed that the title has nothing to do with this bizarre, hole present and that he simply favored the sound of the 2 phrases he selected earlier than he even began writing. That course of appears to seize the depth of this whole mission, one which performs with quite a lot of attention-grabbing elements however has so little enjoyable doing so.