‘copenhagen cowboy‘ is the new Netflix series from the writer and director of ‘Drive’, Nicolas Winding Refnand has all of its trademarks, from violence to its neon-drenched setsbut this time his criminal and aesthetic universe expands for six chapters, in which supernatural, surreal and almost experimental elements are mixed, without making it very clear which aspect of his cinema he decides to choose.
NWR is one of those filmmakers that people either love or hate.. His resume includes outstanding works like ‘Bronson’, ‘Pusher’ and ‘Drive’, with other more divisive pieces like ‘Only God forgives‘ Y ‘The Neon Demon‘, but in recent years he has deepened his more self-indulgent side, especially in 2019, with his first series, ‘too old to die young‘ with which he showed that sometimes giving a director a long series doesn’t always work well. Like it or not, Refn is back with another limited series, this time with Netflix, in what is his first project in Danish since 2005.
Promising mix of genres
‘Copenhagen Cowboy’ a film noir series in six episodes which follows the enigmatic young heroine, Miu, who, after a life of servitude, searches for a fresh start, traversing the sinister landscape of Copenhagen’s criminal underworld. As she seeks justice and revenge, she meets her nemesis, Rakel, and they embark on an odyssey through the natural and the supernatural as the past ultimately transforms and defines their future, only to discover that they are both not alone, but which are many
NWR mixes own ideas of ‘Kill Bill’ inside the Danish criminal underworld, expanding the genre with a family of vampires and breaking the seemingly paper-thin veil between the supernatural denizens of another reality and the various bosses of the mob, brothels and other gangs. In other words, andThis should be one of the most amazing series ever. Instead, Refn seems more preoccupied with his eccentricities and is unable to define a single clue about the world he takes place in in the first two episodes.
The director chooses eccentricity over magic and he doesn’t pay much attention to Miu, either, who spends the first episode trapped in a Danish brothel that’s seemingly in the middle of nowhere, before escaping in the second down a dirt road that leads to an equally out-of-the-way Chinese restaurant. Most of the time is spent looking at the camera in long, almost static close-ups that have less content and meaning than they appear.
A luminous and hypnotic mat
There are certain moments when ‘Copenhagen Cowboy’ seems like it’s about to become something, anything, more interesting than its boring start, but, NWR seems stubborn in keeping his series away from anything that might give it a little plot boost.preferring to avoid its most enigmatic and differential ingredients, such as supernatural beings or psychic powers, to focus on figures of power, prolonged whispered dialogues and spaced out phrases no matter what happens to the characters.
Refn has always been an incredible image maker, singularly dedicated to his own specific aesthetic, and here he follows his maxim, despite the fact that in the serial format he needs to cement his journey in some writing process that doesn’t seem to have taken place. Dedication to make denser the atmosphere is inversely proportional to the meaning of its silencescreating a tone that does not quite materialize in a fluid narrative, which turns the most interesting aspects of the series into frustrating conclusions.
The chances of an underworld-infected crime thriller that lurks in the streets and forests of Denmark, they push the limit of narrative storytelling, but not in a good way. Again with a blank check and no supervision from Netflix, NWR and its co-writers Sara Isabelle Jonsson Vedde, Johanne Algren and Mona Masri peck at the gothic horror fairy tale with sex and violence. He achieves great beauty in the images and even has tributes—perhaps too repetitive—to ‘The glow’ but is often bogged down by its own thematic disconnect between scenes and episode.
Genius or joke?
Angela Bundalovic does the best she can with her monosyllabic script, but it’s impossible to sympathize with her on her journey of revenge and It’s mad that there wasn’t more interest in really exploring his character beyond his physique particular, opposite to what we can think of as a great murderer. But NWR becomes obsessed with other moments, frames and shots like a fight that leaves flashes – the same resource of Panos Cosmatos is his equally empty episode ‘The Visit’ – that seem like great occurrences from someone too self-convinced that he is brilliant.
The reality is that in six hours there are too many dead times to not question the genius of the author, who rather seems to be recycling the ideas that led him to success, except that music is missing in this music video. The clearest conclusion after watching all the episodes and observing the redundancy with his previous project is that Nicolas Winding Refn should return to making feature films with limited running times. His frontal shots, his neon lights and his tricks are bordering on self-parody, he seems more like a fan of David Lynch and Dario Argento who hasn’t quite found his voice than the director of ‘The Neon Demon ‘.
The synthwave packaging is already more rude, which was cool 10 years ago, and today, like ‘La visita’ by Cosmatos, it is as outdated as dressing in tight skinny jeans or saying “what brother-in-law”. NWR needs to get off the platforms, because it looks like they already hold the blueprint to save locations. In ‘Copenhagen Cowboy’ he tries again to make histrionic moments and get out of the expected, but this time the joke is you, and the time of life runs too fast as to waste more time with whims of terrible children on account of poor Netflix’s checkbook.