Witch Hunt ~ A Non-Spoiler Review

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Photo montage for scenes from Witch Hunt. Central image is the theatrical poster for the for the show

🇳🇴 WITCH HUNT 🇳🇴

Witch Hunt aka Heksejakt (2020-) is a Norwegian Crime/Drama/Thriller available on Walter Presents U.K.; PBS Masterpiece US & Can. 8 x 43-45 min episodes. Guidance re: content. In Norwegian with English subtitles.

Premise:

“Law firm working [sic] Ida Waage has to sign a bill for 450 000 Euros, but hesitates. She doesn’t know the firm. Can she trust the people she works for? Is it a scam? Should she blow the whistle?” IMDb

Cast:

Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Ida Waage
Christian Skolman as Tore Waage
Axel Bøyum as Jonas Waage
Charlotte Spakmo Boe as Emma Waage
Gard B.Eidsvold as Ola Waage
Mads Ousdal as Peer Eggen
Preben Hodneland as Jan Gunnar Askeland
Nader Khademi as Pedram Samadi
Caroline Glomnes as Birgitte Bugge
Ellen Birgitte Winther as Anette Noreide
Fridtjov Såheim as Eirik Bråthen
Sara Khorami as Aida Salim
Frode Winther as Daniel Schanke
André Sørem as Jo Wiig

English-language poster for Witch Hunt

Crew:

Writers: Anna Bache-Wiig, Siv Rejendram Eliassen
Directors: Eva Sørhaug, Stian Kristiansen
Cinematographers: Jakob Ingason, Torkel Riise Svenson
Composer: Johannes Ringen

English-language poster for Witch Hunt

Notes:

Cast members who may be familiar to you include Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Westworld), Christian Skolmen (Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes), Axel Bøyum (Eyewitness)., Mads Ousdal (Wisting), Nader Khademi (Beforeigners, Welcome to Utmarkt, Ninjababy, Bloodride, Home for Christmas, Mammon), Ellen Birgitte Winther (Twin, Beforeigners, Borderland, Valkyrien, Mammon), Fridtjov Såheim (The Wave, Lilyhammer, Atlantic Crossing, Ragnarok, Wisting, Amundsen, Norsemen), Sara Khorami (Post Mortem: No Body Dies in Skarnes), Occupied).

Writer and actress Anna Bache-Wiig wrote the screenplay for Erik Pope’s film Utøya – July 22. Siv Rajandram Eliassen was responsible for the concept of The State of Happiness and also wrote Those Who Kill.

Jakob Ingason has been the cinematographer on many music videos for the musician Alan Walker. He was also the cinematographer on Borderland, Bloodride and Mammon.

The composer Johannes Ringer has worked on projects such as Asphalt Burning, Norsemen, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Fast & Furious 8.

Director Eva Sørhaug has directed 3 episodes of the new series Yellowjackets and also worked on Your Honour, American Gods, Reprisal and Occupied.

Norwegian-language poster for Witch Hunt

Review:

“Nobody cares about the truth.”

The immediate appeal of Witch Hunt was that it offered something a bit different from the norm from Scandinavia. This would not be a noir detective series or a straight political drama but would be set in a corporate world (so immediately I was thinking “Bad Banks” or “Devils”). Would this series live up to its immediate appeal?

There is a crime at the centre of this story but there are no obvious victims because this story revolves around money laundering and fraud. Often these are seen as “victimless crimes” but as Witch Hunt plays out we see that it is not.

Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Ida Waage in a scene from Witch Hunt

Witch Hunt is a show about power and how that power can be wielded to manipulate people. It is also about greed and ambition. Now there is nothing wrong with ambition per se but we see here how it can compromise everything if held unchecked. We see how leverage over others is used, that the unscrupulous (even dangerous) will use anything they have to hand to entrap, threaten and manipulate others.

Preben Hodneland as Jan Gunnar Askeland in a scene from Witch Hunt

Parts of this series made me extremely angry, as I observed the way that people are manipulated, set up, steamrollered and defamed in the corporate world to avoid repercussions for an illegal act.

I did like that the Press and journalists were shown in a more nuanced way than is often the case. Again though, we are privy to how events can be distorted and that they can eat their own. Certainly, it showed how prejudice and bigotry surface at any opportunity. “Nobody cares about the truth” (out of the mouths of babes) is a moot point in this series, how much does “the truth” matter to the general public?

Nader Khademi as Pedram Samadi in a scene from Witch Hunt

Some may see the twists and turns in the story as predictable but, even if some are, that just increased the intensity for me, as a viewer. You cannot really blame characters for being naive etc. when as viewers we have the benefit of seeing the Norwegian wood for the trees. We know what every other party is capable of and what they are likely to do.

The writers use dilemmas that characters are faced with to push the story forwards. We see that some characters have no moral compass and likely have never had one, others have a compass but it is either bent or broken whilst others have the needle drawn for a while to a false magnetic field… It is so easy for people to end up doing wrong because they allow themselves to be entrapped. Other times people, like our cop, give in because of very real threats, and who can blame them, really.

Axel Bøyum as Jonas Waage in a scene from Witch Hunt

I loved many of the locations used in this and there is a lot of good camerawork. The music score fitted perfectly and added to the atmosphere and tension without distracting from it. I was not however fond of the abrupt edits from one scene to another that occurred a few times, they were quite jolting and distracting.

The central character of Ida is very believable and well-acted by Ingrid Bolsø Berdal. I particularly enjoyed the performance by Gard B.Eidsvold as Ola Waage, Ida’s brother-in-law, who has a difficult relationship with alcohol (putting it mildly). I did wonder about some scenes in a house with no obscured windows and the press perhaps being around…

The characters are well-drawn in Witch Hunt but I would have liked just a bit more depth given to Peer Eggen. There are characters (mostly men) who are quite prepared to sell their souls to maintain their position with Peer. One is definitely a psychopath (no, not Peer). Although I didn’t agree with Ida’s husband’s stance much of the time I could still understand why he felt the way he did. I enjoyed seeing characters that are flawed even if at least two deserved a good slap! These actors certainly got the smug, self-satisfied look down to a tee.

If I have to offer one criticism it would be that I would have preferred to see more balance between men and women being the “baddies”.

The ending of Witch Hunt was satisfying although I did find the court’s decision a bit surprising. It was good to see that almost everyone we cared about came out of this alive. The very end was also very realistic and I admit to being fond of a story that does not tie everything up with a pretty bow.

Overall Witch Hunt is a very engaging TV show which might raise your blood pressure whilst watching. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

🏆 Awards ~ 1 Win 1 Nomination

Win: Golden Screen, Norway (2020) Best Actress ~ Ingrid Bolsø Berdal
Nomination: Golden Screen, Norway (2020) Best Cinematography ~ Jakob Ingason & Miso Film Norge

Trailer:

More Norwegian TV Shows:

https://reel2reeltalk.com/category/tv/norwegian-tv-shows/

For those who are fans of Nordic/Scandi TV shows and films there is a great affiliated Facebook Page:

https://m.facebook.com/manvelovTheofficialfanpage/

This online publication also has its own Facebook Page with a wide variety of content: 

https://m.facebook.com/reel2reeltalk/

More TV Reviews: 

https://reel2reeltalk.com/category/tv/

More Non-Spoiler Reviews: 

https://reel2reeltalk.com/category/non-spoiler-reviews/

More Spoiler Reviews: 

https://reel2reeltalk.com/category/spoiler-reviews/

More Film Reviews: 

https://reel2reeltalk.com/category/film/

Thanks for reading this article, please feel free to comment