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Netflix’s THE CHESTNUT MAN (2021) Review

J-L reviews Netflix’s upcoming Nordic noir series THE CHESTNUT MAN calling it “an enigmatic narrative full of twists and turns.”



The Chestnut Man (Netflix)

The Chestnut Man‘ comes to Netflix from Wednesday, September 29, 2021.


At a grisly murder scene sits a figurine made of chestnuts. From this creepy clue, two detectives hunt a killer linked to a politician’s missing child.


A new six-episode Nordic noir series, The Chestnut Man, lands on Netflix on the 29th October. Based on Søren Sveistrup’s debut novel of the same name, the story takes us to a quiet suburb in Copenhagen where the police are alerted to the brutal murder of a woman, her hand removed. At the playground crime scene stands a small figurine made of chestnuts.

Danica Curcic plays Naia Thulin, a diligent young detective who is eager to accept a less demanding police role to be more present in her daughter’s life but is first assigned to the case. She is joined in the investigation by a new partner, Mark Hess (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard). Not long into the investigation, they discover some surprising evidence on the chestnut man – the fingerprint of the young daughter of politician Rosa Hartung (Iben Dorner), missing for over a year and presumed dead.

Viewers may recognise Sveistrup as the creator of critically-acclaimed The Killing and the latest adaptation of his work is likely to elicit an equally positive reception. Not much more can really be discussed in terms of narrative for sake of ruining the mystery, but what can be said is that over the course of its six-instalment run, The Chestnut Man intricately weaves its distinct but nonetheless interconnected storylines into a compelling puzzle. Heavily character-driven and deeply psychological, the origins and effects of grief and abuse are carefully painted throughout. Such themes are naturally borne out through the characters, who are all crafted with consummate ease. Every individual feels real, with their own genuine flaws, drives and motivations.

Curcic offers an appropriately reserved yet endearing lead performance as Thulin, but demonstrates the capacity of her acting range in those inevitable moments of intense distress, panic and tension. Meanwhile, Følsgaard produces a deeply nuanced portrayal that initially causes confusion and doubt, but ultimately compels genuine emotion and respect. Indeed, the entire cast is strong, with no weak links amongst the ensemble; even those in minor roles provide committed performances that create fully-fledged people as opposed to merely disposable plot-progressors, whilst all of the child actors easily hold their own alongside their veteran counterparts.

The pacing is tight and the runtime is appropriate. Naturally, there are whirlwind moments but the series is unafraid to slow down too. The showrunners have mastered the ability to know exactly when and where to alter the pace, reflect and focus on its inhabitants, delving into their psyches and feelings, which in turn allows the viewer to truly connect and empathise with them. The sharp editing, despite being completed by four different people across the series, undoubtedly compliments these routine fluctuations in pacing.

Furthermore, whereas even some of the best detective stories on television can falter with more generic or even bland cinematography, there is an abundance of lush visuals on display here. The Chestnut Man frequently employs shallow depth of field with minute focus points, perfectly drawing attention to the small details in the world that say huge amounts, whether they are communicating important clues about a character’s mindset or about the investigation underway. Such an approach also provides a greater immersion, enabling the story to unfold more seamlessly without over-editing conversations and other scenes, utilising long takes with a shifting focus mid-shot instead of constantly cutting. Sweeping aerial shots serve as effective tools not only for establishing shifts in locations, but also moods and times. Like with the editing, the intimate filming approach is impressively consistent given that the series has two cinematographers, each responsible for half of the episodes.

A great score courtesy of Kristian Eidnes Andersen aids in maintaining the corresponding tone of each scene, whether it be an aura of intrigue, a sequence of freneticism or a moment of stillness.


With interesting, well-written characters, an enigmatic narrative full of twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat and some gorgeous visuals that pull you into the heart of the mystery, fans of the Nordic noir genre will certainly not be disappointed.

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