🇩🇰 COPENHAGEN COWBOY 🇩🇰
Copenhagen Cowboy (2023) is a Danish Netflix Original miniseries with 6 episodes of 46-56 minutes. Rated 15 U.K. In a variety of languages including Danish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Serbian and Japanese with subtitles and dubbing.
“A young heroine, Miu, who travels through Copenhagen’s criminal netherworld.”
Angela Bundalovic as Miu
Andreas Lykke Jørgensen as Nicklas
Li Ii Zhang as Mor Hulda
Jason Hendil-Forssell as Chiang
Hok Kit Cheng as Ying
Shang Preben Madsen as Lai
Emilie Xin Tong Han as Ai
Zlatko Buric as Miroslav
Fleur Frilund as Jessica
Valentina Dejanovic as Cimona
Maria Erwolter as Beate
Ramadan Huseini as Andre
Ayhan Taskiran as Sokol
Nicolas Winding Refn as Jørgen
Creator: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writers: Sara Isabella Jønsson Vedde, Nicolas Winding Refn, Johanne Algren, Mona Masri
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cinematographer: Magnus Nordenhof Jønck
Composers: Peter Kyed, Cliff Martinez, Peter Peter, Julian Winding
Editors: Olivier Bugge Coutté, Allan Funch, Olivia Neergaard-Holm
Production Design: Gitte Malling
Nicolas Winding Refn is a renowned Danish director who has won 30 awards with another 55 nominations including one for a David Lean Award for Directing. He is also colour-blind and cannot see mid-tones, which influences his work.
Magnus Nordenhof Jønck is a multi-award-winning and nominated cinematographer. The editor Olivier Bugge Coutté is also multi-award-winning and nominated. Composer Cliff Martinez has won 17 awards, including a BAFTA with 33 nominations.
Zlatko Buric worked with Refn on Pusher (2012) and can also be seen in Triangle of Sadness (2022), 1864 (TV Mini-Series 2014‑2014) and Kursk: The Last Mission (2018).
Ramadan Huseini can be seen in Pusher lll (also directed by Refn), The Killing, Those Who Kill, The Team, Follow the Money, Greyzone, The Rain, Countdown Copenhagen and Cry Wolf.
I had been excitedly awaiting the arrival of Copenhagen Cowboy on Netflix ever since it was first announced. As a big fan of Nicolas Winding Refn – I enjoyed Pusher and Drive is one of my favourite English-language films – getting a whole TV series, albeit just 6 episodes was a bit like waiting for Christmas when I was a child. I expected, wanted, neon-noir and that is what I got. What I didn’t expect was the strangeness of this story (naive or what?)
While I was watching the first episode I thought to myself (in fact, I think I may have said this aloud) “Nicolas Winding Refn, you little darling you!” This thought was almost immediately followed by “Boy! Some people are really going to hate this!” Nothing that followed after this first episode dissuaded me from those first thoughts.
Saturated neon-noir and a fantastic synth music score that infuses many scenes. One of my all-time favourite films is Blade Runner and parts of this reminded me of that movie.
Copenhagen Cowboy has a strong female lead character who isn’t exactly verbose – but isn’t that often the case with action-hero male lead characters? She remains a mystery from the start (note the title of the first episode) to the end as we learn very little about her. In these respects, she reminded me of the classic film/TV loner coming into town to right wrongs as an avenger/retributor.
I loved that this dissects and plays with romantic tropes and fools us into expecting one thing only to pull the carpet out from under our feet and do something else entirely. This is a feminist series in so far that women are frequently shown to be victims of male, and sometimes female, brutality and exploitation.
The first episode of this is so weird as we are thrown into this family with a freakish woman who desires to become pregnant. Her husband Sven’s name sounds like pig (svin) in Danish and boy, does he live up to his name! In fact pigs of one sort or another feature heavily in this series. I have clearly watched too many crime/gangster shows because as soon as I saw the pigs on the farm I knew… I just knew…
I didn’t mind that we don’t get much backstory for Mui or some other characters. What we do get are slow reveals. I haven’t mentioned performances yet but I thought everyone in this was really good. Many of the characters are just terrible people and some are extremely disturbing (insane).
This is a very disturbing, off-kilter, bizarre series and I suspect that those who will loathe it will do so for all the reasons I loved it. The slow, patient pacing and the way it doesn’t spoon-feed at all. It’s a show that’s hard to get a grip on and that’s one reason I loved it so much.
This is a stunning series visually, not only the neon but also the direction and use of camera, the framing, the slow, patient, unnerving panning shots etc. I loved how he lets the camera just linger, often past the point of comfort.
One of my absolute favourite scenes is a stylised fight where a strobe effect is used – genius!
Show, don’t tell is strong in this one. Refn is an auteur director and this is a work of art. Not all scenes are neon and those that aren’t, such as the wonderful forest scenes, are even more impactful because they are such an enormous contrast. The editing of this is sometimes unusual but does the job very well, I thought.
In addition to the direction and cinematography, another outstanding feature of Copenhagen Cowboy is its design. By this, I mean the production and art design, the sets and props, and the costuming (it reminded me of Kill Bill). Everything in this seems meticulously detailed and arranged. Stunning! Parts are very stylised and almost stage-like and that is something that some will love (as I did) or hate.
I’ve mentioned the music but I do need to mention it again because this is a fantastic score used perfectly.
I appreciated that is a series with multiple ethnicities and languages but that these are always intrinsic to the storyline and not a nod in the “right” direction.
As I said at the start I knew pretty quickly that this will be a polarising series. Some will love it and others hate it with, I suspect, not many left with a middle-of-the-road feeling – that to me is a plus point because at least it makes people feel something!
I did not binge-watch Copenhagen Cowboy because I wanted to immerse myself in it and let it flow over me. I tried not to consciously work out what was happening and who was who all the time and that worked well for me – relaxing and letting the “river” take you along rather than fighting the stream. I absolutely loved this and will watch it again at some point. It’s an overused phrase but this is NOT for everyone.
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