Copenhagen Cowboys is a 2022 TV series, created by Nicolas Winding Refn.
With Copenhagen Cowboys, Nicolas Winding Refn presents another decidedly unsettling series on the Netflix platform. The show had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. A young woman dressed in blue appears out of nowhere, a walking and silent human enigma. She seems to have magical powers and for this reason everyone wants her, especially to use her for the purpose of obtaining favors. It’s unclear whether the girl is a witch or an extraterrestrial being, she could also just be an exploited woman who is now trying to spin her wheel to her advantage. She definitely is out for revenge.
Miu, this is her name, played by Angela Bundalovic, ends up in a brothel where women are traded as goods. They live in a cellar to serve men full of typical and trivial attitudes of the most obvious machismo. And so director Nicolas Winding Refn ventures once again into the underworld of gangsters, prostitutes, drug dealers and mafia machinations with his new series enriched by a good dose of fantasy.
Winding Refn is a European director who has managed to gain a cult following: Copenhagen Cowboys does without the exaggerated slowness of the previous one Too old to die younghere everything is told and edited faster.
Yet the director’s new work also possesses his unique narrative style, dreamy and joyful, which seeks to mesmerize his audience until moods and lived-in atmospheres form their own narrative. The first half of this five-hour series is simply exhilarating, an audiovisual hallucinogen hammering into the director’s consciousness with deafening volume and massive neon imagery. Copenhagen Cowboys turns gender stereotypes into a show. The women are draped in space like objects, the men flex their muscles and tear apart each other’s fleshy masses. In the middle of the story is a family of vampires whose father boasts of a monstrous penis, and who considers the male sexual organ the only true proof of divine power. Hypermasculinity is distorted to the point of absurdity. It is an aesthetic of artificial surfaces and facades that Refn stages in a visually stunning way, where color and chiaroscuro play an important role, like a true noir, but also sometimes referring to certain effects worthy of Ingrid Bergman, Sweden and Denmark they are not that far away. Her characters wander in a late-modern delirium of venality and violence that seems to know no respite: anesthetizes, dulls the senses. Pictures do the same. In the strongest moments the series develops a trance-like attraction that can act impressively on body, light and sound. A martial arts fight scene becomes a symphony: with every beat, new notes and noises rumble across the deafening soundscape.
Copenhagen Cowboys it develops in different stages and states of consciousness. Even its few definable plot threads unravel over the course of six episodes to herald what is to come. It is difficult to say how this monolithic visual and sound monster fits into the world of streaming, constantly dissolving the viewer’s habits, his desire to follow psychology and narratives that have perhaps never been exposed. The format of Winding Refn brings the viewer very close to the feeling of a wide-eyed, meaningless look for hours, watching TV like a drug and expanding consciousness. In terms of content, it works exclusively with obscure keywords, flickers for their own sake. Total overwhelm and banality often go hand in hand, but perhaps it is precisely here that the great subversion to which the series tends lurks: in the ostentatiously stylized vegetating in front of the TV, in the celebration of the senseless, which translates one’s emptiness into abysmal beauty. The Winding Refn series becomes more and more of a rabbit hole, a wonderland where you can dive into and where you almost don’t know what’s going on. One feels wildly saturated and disturbed by all the references, yet it takes us back, spellbound, to everyday life.