🇩🇰 GROW 🇩🇰
Grow aka as Alfa (2020) is a Danish crime thriller series now available on All4 Walter Presents in the U.K. 8 x 45-minute episodes. Rated Guidance UK.
“When newly examined stockbroker Adam is told that his father has died, he flies into a destructive world alongside his childhood friends. At the father’s funeral Adam’s big brother, Jakob resurfaces presenting himself as a policeman, having left his previous lifestyle.” IMDb 7.1/10
Andreas Jessen as Adam
Sebastian Jessen as Jakob
Lars Mikkelsen as Graversen
Susanne Storm as Mother
Besir Zeciri as Simon
Johannes Lassen as Lenny
Simone Lykke as Aggy
Thomas Levin as Rolf
Ari Alexander as Oliver
Julie Brochorst Andersen as Emma
David Sakurai as Wester
Jonathan Harboe as Zabi
Christian Tafdrup as Jarl
Ardalan Esmaili as Ibrahim
Writer: Milad Avaz
Director: Milad Avaz
Composer: Thomas Volmer Schulz
Cinematographers: Carlos Baker, Daniel Cotroneo, Michel Copeland Toft
Editors: Anders Hoffmann, Niels Ostenfeld
Andreas Jessen (born 1989) and Sebastian Jessen (born 1986) are brothers in real life.
I like to watch series from Scandinavia, especially those that include social and ethnic groups that have been underrepresented in the past (sometimes not represented at all). Grow initially appealed for two reasons, firstly because of its basic premise and secondly because of those involved in the creation of this show. I don’t want to watch the same old same old, and this show appeared to offer that.
It’s only now, having watched the whole series, that it has occurred to me that the original title “Alfa” (Alpha in English) is a subtle yet clear indicator of the direction this show “travels” in. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and the opposite of Omega, therefore the start of things rather than the end. I worked out, without thinking about the title, that this show shows events leading to the start of a full-time “career” in the drug business — a start-up if you like.
I loved the casting in Grow, the brothers, being brothers in real life were both excellent and meant we get a familial “voice” that they both use. The rest of the cast is very good too and with the added skills of switching between languages fluently.
The way that the “boys” childhood experiences (and WHAT experiences they are!) are shown is excellent in flashback. It is these experiences that inform who they have become as adults.
One, Jakob, has tried to completely erase his past by changing his surname and having nothing to do with his family. He is a cop and appears (at least on the surface) to be cold and distant. Of course, he cannot shake off his past and adopting (in effect) a new identity doesn’t work; everyone knows who his father is, and he is still in love with a woman from his past. He is a control freak in many ways but that’s not uncommon for someone who has experienced what he has.
Adam, the stockbroker has chosen a different route from his brother and has not distanced himself from his mother. He appears to be more sociable and likeable. He is a character who is willing to sacrifice friends and is most definitely egocentric.
Both these men are scarred by their childhood experiences and upbringing. Initially, they may appear to display the effect of these traumas in different ways but in many ways what they do is similar. Both have a terrible time with impulse control (what impulse control one may ask) and are both addicted to a thrill that comes with danger. Both are out to prove that they can be someone. I very much liked that their differences were shown too.
These effects are the same with Lenny who just displays them in an enhanced way. His damaged self-image is over-compensated for in the same way as the brothers.
Through these men’s stories, we see the effects of trauma and violence later in life. They are all haunted by them. That some are more “likeable” than others doesn’t and shouldn’t change that.
The Colombian connection is important in this story (not only for Jonathan Harboe/Zabi’s amazing eyes!). This part of the story is there for a reason, so keep up with it.
Just here I would like to mention a couple of things about the way this story is told. Firstly, Grow uses a considerable amount of “show don’t tell”, not relying heavily upon spoon feeding, lots of exposition or masses of explanatory dialogue. Secondly, not all the dots are neatly and easily joined and it takes its time to unfold. I would say that it is very important with this series to pay full attention at all times, if you don’t you will surely miss things. Not only is it important to pay attention but I do think that patience is the key because things do become clearer as they go along.
One scene I particularly loved was a big shoot out which I found to be an exciting, visceral experience. The way the camera was used combined with some great effects and sound design go together to create something worth watching.
Suspension of disbelief… yes, there are parts where you have to ignore things that are a bit far-fetched or which would never happen such as Lenny being able to saunter into a stockbroker’s trading room.
I’m going to give a round of applause to the costume department of this and whoever found the locations.
Overall, I enjoyed Grow. It isn’t without flaws but I liked its approach, the acting and how it all played out. I didn’t grasp every part of the story but I would consider watching it again to pick up those now I know how it all plays out.
Awards: 2 Nominations
Danish Film Awards (Robert 2021) Best Actor – TV Series Leading Role ~ Andreas Jessen
Zulu Awards (2021) Best TV Series
Walter Presents Intro:
More Danish TV Shows:
Also on Facebook is the group More Than Only Walter Presents which has its focus firmly on non-English language TV shows, films, dramas and documentaries: