Copenhagen Cowboy, review: Refn between crime and superheroines

Copenhagen Cowboy, review: Refn between crime and superheroines

Copenhagen Cowboy, review

About three years after the unconventional Too Old To Die Young , the Danish cult director Nicolas Winding Refn returns to compete with television seriality, always dictating his own peculiar rules, with Copenhagen Cowboy whose 6 episodes will be available on Netflix starting January 5th. A lysergic story set in the criminal underworld of a desolate Copenhagen in which the young Miu dispenses revenge between supernatural powers and martial arts by awakening her own nemesis in the eternal struggle between good and evil.

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Copenhagen Cowboy: spirits of revenge under neon lights

Miu arrives in Copenhagen from the Balkans sold as a sort of lucky charm. Rosella is a middle-aged Albanian woman who is desperately trying to have a child with her silent Danish husband, who seems to have very different appetites, and she is also the half-sister of Andre, a small boss who runs a racket of prostitutes, all girls from Eastern Europe. and lured to Denmark with the promise of a job as a model. When Rosella fails to get pregnant, Miu is resold to Andre. Among the other girls with whom she is locked up, the tiny Miu seems to establish a connection with Cimona to the point of planning her escape with her.

The two girls meet just outside the slaughterhouse used as a club of the Albanian clan but they will never meet. In fact, Cimona is loaded into the car by the icy Nicklas who kills her. Miu then finds refuge with Mother Hulda, a Chinese restaurant owner, who intuits her abilities when she suddenly "brings back to life" a stillborn baby girl. After Miu takes her revenge on Rosella, Hulda asks her to help relieve her boss Chiang's severe migraines. In fact, Hulda confesses that Chiang has taken her daughter Ai of her hostage and also for this reason she is forced to work for the man who regularly brings her corpses to be disposed of by her pigs. Miu applies her healing abilities by relieving Chiang's pain and getting into his good graces.

When one of Hulda's pigs dies, the two women go to a local farm to buy another. The breeding is owned by a wealthy Danish family: right in their house, where they bargain for the price of the animal, you can see the ghost of Cimona. The girl then insists on investigating, finding herself in front of Nicklas and sensing that he is her friend's murderer, she confronts him leaving him lifeless in the pig enclosure that disfigures him.

Sure that she has avenged Cimona, Miu decides to help Chiang once again with his migraine as long as he frees Ai, the boss agrees but sets an exorbitant price. The girl then travels to the city and asks the corrupt lawyer Miroslav to get her a job. Miu then starts dealing for a local gang getting caught in the crossfire of an all-out war. Finding himself with a large batch of coke on his hands, Miu tries to repay his debt to Chiang who flatly refuses, instead asking the girl to join him as his wife and lover.

Nicklas meanwhile, deformed and bereft of strength, awakens his sister Rakel with a ritual in the hope that she will avenge him. Like Miu, Rakel also has special abilities and the comparison between the two is only a matter of time.

Copenhagen Cowboy: between noir and superheroines

In Copenhagen Cowboy there is an obvious change of paradigm in Nicolas Winding Refn's narration: the introduction of a female protagonist, an almost super heroine. For the director, therefore, new narrative digressions seem to have suddenly opened up where a component of self-awareness and social commentary is added to the classic crime and noir inspirations, western ones and martial arts cinema (already present in his 2016 film Neon Demon) in which his privileged perspective, that of the hero's journey possibly silent and with a dark past, is fore and observed sideways.

There is the commodification of the female body, and its metaphysical power is not always positive, where truth and redemption rhyme with revenge. Not too veiled animal symbolisms (Albanian eagles, Chinese dragons and so on) find their apotheosis in the figure of the man-pig, with male characters who grunt instead of speaking, impoverishing of invincibility the very idea of ​​masculinity (around the fourth episode animal symbolisms are replaced by phallic ones) but also that of possessiveness and even of racial purity. Everyone is overwhelmed by violence and revenge is a universal feeling.

Copenhagen Cowboys. COURTESY OF NETFLIX .. 2022 In this sense, Miu is a Beatrix Kiddo in blue, the color of calm, whose saving power is, however, like that of superheroes, trapped in a vicious circle of death and resurrection against an Evil that has contributed to creating/awakening, with the connotations of a vampire/cannibal in this specific case, is perhaps impossible to stop definitively but against which we must measure ourselves cyclically. This could be a hypothetical reading of the open finale of the series, net of a possible second season, also with a strong cameo by Hideo Kojima as a yakuza boss.

The series is practically divided into 3 narrative arcs of 2 episodes each one in which especially the last two become extremely lysergic and rarefied and where the influences of David Lynch and Lars Von Trier become more marked. An extremely sedate, silent narration interspersed only by the synth wave beats of Cliff Martinez, in which gazes and gestures dominate the shots and each movement is slow and deliberately similar to a modern dance performance rather than the muscularity of action cinema.
Copenhagen Cowboys. COURTESY OF NETFLIX .. 2022

A synestia of neon chromatic contrasts and vapor wave aesthetics in which the formal correctness and the narrative path itself live on abrupt flares and alienating fades and where the camera movements are lateral to 360° underlining the cyclicality of what we are experiencing between criminal chaos and a dreamlike-cathartic sublimation of the symbolic and heuristic component of the action.

Copenhagen Cowboy is an exercise in style that will make Nicolas Winding Refn fans happy while moving on slightly different tracks than the previous Too Old To Die Young. More usable in some respects but even more rarefied in others, this series is a celebration of anti-commercialism from many points of view and for this very reason it could only land on what is the streaming platform with the most users in the world: as a disruptive and irreverent force that will make the average spectator's wrists tremble, and perhaps lose patience.

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