DVD Review: ACQUITTED (Season One, MHz Releasing)

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by Dale Reynolds on June 1, 2019



Norway’s Acquitted (Frikjent) Season One is now available on DVD and MHz with Season Two to follow. A strong contender for Best Teleplay Sounding Like a Soap Opera, it is — believe me — much, much better.

Norwegian Aksel Borgen (Nicolai Cleve Broch) has returned home to his native small town after twenty years of self-imposed exile after being acquitted of murdering his then-sweetheart, when the entire township — now facing ruin after the bankruptcy of the sole manufacturing company — turned against him. But Aksel has bought into the business along with a larger, sleazy corporation, which might now abandon the beautiful fjord-facing town, killing its tourist-laden future.

Acquitted he might have been after a year in prison when a young woman came forth with evidence that he wasn’t near the site when the sweetheart was murdered, but still the remaining folk aren’t happy to have him back. Aksel has left his a wife, a native Malaysian (Elaine Tan), for now, but has his teen-aged son (Mathias Romano) with him while he works to get the business on its feet. The complications start when Aksel falls in love with the female friend who vouched for him those years before, and has to deal with his addled mother (Anne Marit Jacobsen) and resentful brother (Tobias Santelmann), in addition to a town still suspicious that Aksel had indeed committed the slaying, now egged on by the dead girl’s bitter mother (Lena Endre).

The ten episodes build well, introducing us to many of the townsfolk angry with him showing up at all. The meanness of the new owners and their cynical abuse of the townsfolk are absorbing and fruitful. And the love-making certainly keeps the cold weather away.

Created by Anna Bache-Wiig and Siv Rajendram Eliassen, the writing (aided by Rune Denstad Langlo) is first-rate, making the dramatic situations realistic and, under the solid direction of Geir Henning Hopland, the acting meaningful. In addition, the cinematography of Gaute Gunnari (along with some stunning stock-footage of the towering mountains and blue-blue-blue fjords) turns out to be well-worth the visit to this series.

Acquitted (Frikjent)
Season One (Episodes 1-10)
MHz Releasing
3 discs | 449 minutes | released on DVD January 29, 2019 | TV-14
available at MHz Releasing or Amazon

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