Copenhagen Cowboy, according to the words of its creator Nicolas Winding Refn, is a story that seeks to combine the noir genre, traditional fairy tales and even superheroes, creating a new heroine for the new times. And the Danish filmmaker knows a lot about icons: both in Valhalla Rising like in Drive, and in many other of his works, he has created images and characters that continue to have an impact to this day and have carved a niche for themselves in popular culture, captivating moviegoers of all ages. But ambition is not always good, not even when experience supports it.
This six episode series premiered on Netflix in January 2023, with little success. While waiting (or not) for its renewal, let’s bathe again in those neon lights that we know so well, and see if this sick trip has been worth it.
A cowboy from Copenhagen
Copenhagen Cowboy stars Miu, a young woman with supernatural abilities who is hired by a gangster’s sister to help her have a healthy baby. This girl, of few words and with a mysterious past, will try to help the prostitutes with whom she will live in the house, but a conflict with her host will end up leading to tragedy.
Once this happens, you must run away and find a place to take refuge, but this will not keep her away from the criminal underworld. On this strange journey she will meet criminals of all kinds and conditions, old friends and a wealthy family of obsessive cannibals who will try to kill her.
The Emperor (of Denmark) is naked
You can see what Winding Refn was trying to achieve with Copenhagen Cowboy. It shows in the traumatized and unhealthy characters that populate the plot, in the moments of stillness between the different actors in this drama, in that magical realism that allows superheroes and vampires to converge without anyone seeming to care, in the story of emancipation that it is guessed It’s also noticeable in the scant hints of social awareness and, as someone who has thoroughly enjoyed his films, I have to congratulate him on trying something different on a platform increasingly plagued by clone products.
But I’m sorry to say that Copenhagen Cowboy It’s flawed from start to finish. It is partly due to the leisurely style that has worked so well in his author’s films, but which in a six-episode series seems faked and even self-parodying, with unnecessarily lengthy scenes not to achieve any narrative effect but to reach a certain duration. or to satisfy their unconditional fans. Sometimes it works (such as Miu’s encounters with the villains), but it’s exhausting most of the time.
That the series is boring or slow is one thing, but what is really unforgivable is that it uses these resources so hackneyed in the author’s work (silences, hidden emotions…) to mask an emptiness from which not even its successful aesthetics distracts us. The few moments of depth are so far apart that they lose all the impact they could have had. There is no background for so much form, and not even the form achieves the levels of quality to which we are accustomed.
Copenhagen Cowboy it tries to be a deconstruction of too many things, and perhaps for this reason it shows us completely stereotyped characters. This problem, which perhaps could have been solved with a less solemn tone, worsens when we realize that Winding Refn wants us to take what we are seeing seriously. It would have been advisable for the humor of some scenes, which manages to get a smile, to have extended to the rest of the production, which in this way could have sheltered in satire to hide its more than obvious seams.
Copenhagen Cowboy it does not fascinate, it does not make one think, it has little to say and it does not even entertain. The most frustrating thing about this series is that Winding Refn, who offered us moving humanity in Drive and a perverse horror in The Neon Demonmakes a cold product, which seems to wallow in a cryptic style without substance to back it up, and which introduces new characters without having developed well those it already has.
A product, moreover, incomplete, since it anticipates a second season that Netflix may not be in the business of producing, given the little impact it has had. The cliffhanger end, despite to the unexpected cameo it containsdoes not provoke anticipation but yawns.