🇫🇮 🇸🇪 WHITE WALL 🇸🇪 🇫🇮
White Wall (2020) is a Swedish-Finnish TV show available on STV Player in the U.K. 8-45 minute episodes in Swedish, Finnish and English with English subtitles.
A mysterious white wall made of unknown material is found deep underground at the mining site of the world’s largest nuclear waste depository.
Aksel Hennie as Lars Ruud
Vera Vitali as Helen Vikberg
Mattias Nordkvist as Magnus Ahlbäck
Einar Bredefeldt as Oskar Björkman
Anna Paavilainen as Astrid Laine
Eero Milonoff as Atte
Zacharias Boustedt as Axel Wikberg
Karen Bryson as Gina
Elsa Wörmann as Nicola Ruud
Ardalan Esmaili as Said
Eva Melander as Hanne
Writers: Mikko Pöllä, Aleksi Salmenperä, Lisa Ambjörn, Roope Lehtinen, Björn Paqualin, Laura Suhonen
Directors: Aleksi Salmemperä, Anna Zackrisson
Composers: Timo Kaukolampi, Tuomo Puranen
Cinematographer: Henri Blomberg, Simon Olsson
Editors: Samu Heikkilä, Kristofer Nordin
Production Designer: Petri Neuvonen
Costume Designer: Mimmi Mäenpää
Makeup Designer: Riika Virtanen
This series was filmed in Pyhäjärvi, Finland.
⚠️ This review contains some spoilers ⚠️
I was so pleased when I discovered that White Wall was now available on STV Player in the U.K. This is a show I had heard much about as it was being filmed, not least because of the cast, but had not had the chance to watch it. Now I had the opportunity I wondered whether, as a sci-fi lover, it would rock my boat.
I thought the first episode was an interesting opener as I was introduced to the characters and the premise in context. I was hoping that I would get to know these characters more over the next 7 episodes.
One thing I will say about White Wall is that I very much liked the cinematography and the locations. By heck, it looked so very cold a lot of the time! I have been outside on crystal clear utterly freezing days and these scenes brought that biting cold that nigh on takes your breath away flooding back. The drone aerial shots were effective and established the scale of the mining area. Many parts were quite beautiful to look at. The interiors, especially inside the mine itself were very impressive, giving again, a real sense of scale.
The music was also evocative and effective I thought. I liked the overall design and costuming etc. of the show.
There is at least one part of this story that was, for me, reminiscent of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (if you know the film a character becomes obsessed with and keeps making models of a mountain-like shape).
My main issue with White Wall was not purely that the pace was glacial but that of pacing overall. There was a remarkable lack of dramatic tension, a sense of jeopardy or a feeling that everything was off-kilter. There were hints of this but I felt they remained underdeveloped.
Likewise, this is essentially supposed to be a character-driven drama but most of the characters seemed as if they needed thawing out. There is frequent reference, for instance, that Lars has changed and is oddly obsessed with the white wall, but, do you know what? That really did not come over to the audience (me) at all. I felt I needed to see him become more unhinged and not just told by other characters that he has.
There were too many subplots and aspects that either led nowhere or just did not enhance character development or the thrust of the story itself.
The character I found the most interesting was actually Atte (Eero Milonoff) who was so stereotypically Finnish throughout. It does help, I think, for a viewer to know about Finnish traits and social norms, otherwise, you miss the impact of the way left of field (for a Finn) swearing and violent reaction in one episode (this is VERY extreme!) You would also probably not appreciate exactly how he can be so apparently emotionless most of the time and that any emotion (there is a point where his eyes are tear-filled) is HUGELY important.
I did enjoy much of the build-up regarding a possible bomb on the site, but, again the denouement of that just seemed a little anti-climatic. And a huge issue after that was building up the tension again… it just did not happen.
By the very end of the story, and I will say that watching was far more like wading through deep snow without snow shoes than snowmobile pace, I was left with a disappointed “Oh, is that it?” reaction.
This seemed like a kernel of a story that unfortunately failed to develop satisfactorily. I have no problem with slow-burn series or films but… you do need depth of character and the payoff must feel like it is worth it at the end but this did not feel like that.
Kultainen Venla (2021) Drama Program; Director of the Year ~ Aleksi Salmenperä
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