Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Dark Heart, on Topic

This five-part series is based on a real-life Swedish true crime book, but it could be any number of cases, since family members are always the first suspects when someone is murdered. It sure looks like Sanna Ljungqvist killed her strict father, Bengt, with her boyfriend Marcus Tingstrom, the thuggish poppa of her child, but volunteer missing persons-searcher Tanja Thorell is the only one investigating the case in director-co-creator Gustav Moller’s The Dark Heart, which premieres today on Topic.

Ljungqvist is fresh out of school with a forest-management degree, but Bengt condescendingly dismisses all her new ideas for their forestry business. Ironically, that pushes her into the arms of brooding Tingstrom, whose father has long-feuded with Bengt, as their fathers did before them.

It sure seems like something bad happened to old Bengt, because he has been missing for over a year in the later time-line. Ljungqvist’s older sister Emelie, who hasn’t lived on the family tree farm in years, contacted Thorell’s missing persons group. Basically, she administers a Facebook page and a list of a few dozen volunteers, but she mobilizes them all to search the woods around the Ljungqvist farm. However, Ljungqvist and Thorell will not grant them permission to search their property, thereby raising Thorell’s suspicions—quite rightly so.

Dark Heart
was probably conceived as a thriller that explored the troubling emotional terrain of family dysfunction, like Blood and Broadchurch, but it leans much more towards angst than suspense. Although the initial split narrative is a little confusing, viewers will pretty much know what happened and are where it is headed, right from the start.

Aliette Opheim brings out the complexities and insecurities of Thorell, who only finds satisfaction from her work finding people. Clara Christiansson is also quite compelling as Sanna, especially as she starts to realize full ramifications of her extraordinarily bad decisions. However, Gustav Lindh is so squirrely and twitchy, it is hard to believe he and Sanna could ever get together in the first place.

Throughout it all, Moller (acclaimed for helming the original version of
The Guilty) is so determined to rub viewers’ noses in the heart of darkness, Dark Heart just gets to be a chore. Despite the surface quality of the production, it just isn’t recommended. Dark Heart now streams via Topic.