‘Copenhagen Cowboy’ Review (2022 Venice Film Festival): Nicolas Winding Refn’s Netflix Series Is Maximalist Mythology In Overdrive

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn would have found a way to shoot Copenhagen Cowboy in its usual feature film format? Probably, but it’s the rare movie as a miniseries that feels well suited to form. The return to his native Denmark for the first time since the Pusher trilogy finds the maximalist director pushing his foot on the accelerator through all six episodes of his Netflix series. Refn expands his sensory overload, giving all the brooding and daring ample room to breathe. It can be repetitive, yes, but never monotonous.

A frequent complaint against Refn’s work is that he prioritizes style over substance so much that the films become more spacers than narrative. (He was “just vibes” before the phrase became a meme.) Copenhagen Cowboy avoid this trap of pure atmosphere by leaning on mythology. Conventional plot is still rare on the show, but at least there’s a bit more to take away here through what Refn conjures up. Although the titular profession might suggest an extrapolation of archetypes from the American West to Denmark, the series is more reminiscent of the folklore of Japanese samurai stories.

The mysterious Miu (Angela Bundalovic) arrives in Copenhagen and quickly becomes something of a traveling rōnin, a skilled samurai without a master. (With her puffy blue jumpsuit and stoic smoke, she’s also very close to Ryan Gosling’s chauffeur from Refn’s Conduct.) Each episode takes Miu darker and darker through the seedy underbelly of the city in pursuit of justice. These aren’t necessarily standalone chapters as Miu’s network begins to converge over time, but this is the approximate frequency in which she gains a new employer or interest to serve.

These contacts begin to form an organized crime ring that Miu unwittingly becomes entangled in. She is in the undesirable position of being sought after by many people and trusted by a few. All the while, this silent witch tries to figure out who she is and where her seemingly supernatural healing and fighting skills come from. We don’t know who the heroes are Copenhagen Cowboy, if any. But there’s little ambiguity about the villains: the aristocratic inhabitants of a Danish estate who dare to refer to their “lineage.” As part of a cosmopolitan city with many residents from diverse backgrounds, the entropy and eccentricity of these ethnic Danes stand out.

Copenhagen Cowboy Streaming Netflix
Photo: Christian Geisnaes

The estate’s son, Nicklas (Andreas Lykke Jørgensen), is a particularly heinous figure in his cruelty to trafficked prostitutes. But her most raging move is waking up her sleeping sister Rakel (Lola Corfixen), a mystical Miu-like presence who may be the only person capable of defeating her. Although Rakel isn’t factored into the show until the penultimate episode, she makes her mark and proves a formidable folk enemy as she seeks revenge on her family.

Copenhagen Cowboy it’s not just Refn who plays the hits to self-parody. It goes bankrupt with overtly paranormal elements of Miu’s sorcery, blending whimsy and noir without the mix sounding jarring. He became even more comfortable with abstraction, reducing a shootout between gangs to just gunshots and people being hit by bullets fading into each other. The show is also full of other welcome surreal touches, like having certain men abuse women. literally talk to the sound of pig cries.

But, at the end of the day, it’s NWR for NWR heads. He soaks this tale of revenge in his traditional neons and infuses it with a haunting Cliff Martinez synth score so bright on his bassline it’ll make any unbolted object shake. Copenhagen Cowboy plays into his strengths of slow pushes and patient pans, given a full five hours to extend for as long as he feels necessary to generate fear. With the freedom to play with duration, Refn reminds viewers that there’s no better way to gently build up tension than to explode it in an instant.

Something as simple as a scissor insert cut into a character’s hand takes on enormous power because it has so deliberately sequenced the visceral impact of the edit. There are plenty of such moments throughout the series, though they might take some patience to wait amidst other Refn stylistic peacocks. Copenhagen Cowboy proves so overwhelming to the eyes and ears, especially if consumed as a binge, that it can completely dull the senses. It may excite existing Refn fans, but it’s unlikely to attract new converts.

Copenhagen Cowboy made its world premiere at the 2022 Venice Film Festival and will be available to stream exclusively on Netflix in December 2022.

Marshall Shaffer is a New York-based freelance film journalist. In addition to Decider, his work has also appeared on Slashfilm, Slant, Little White Lies, and many other outlets. One day soon everyone will realize how right he is Spring breakers.

‘Copenhagen Cowboy’ Review (2022 Venice Film Festival): Nicolas Winding Refn’s Netflix Series Is Maximalist Mythology In Overdrive – CNET – ApparelGeek