Not everyone prefers a series with one story which progresses episode by episode to (hopefully) a satisfactory conclusion. Many prefer the more old-school episodic approach of having just one story per show (think of ‘Midsomer Murders’ and ‘Vera’ and the like). Not many of Walter Presents offerings are this style of programme, but this new Norwegian thriller – ‘For Life’ (‘Livstid in Norwegian’) – ticks that box.
If you want to avoid all spoilers, stop reading this article now.
‘For Life’ (incidentally, nothing to do with the US legal series of the same name from 2020) stars Tone Beate Mostraum as Victoria Woll, a Norwegian police detective. The action takes place over two time periods. We first see her in 2040 – aged 60 – where she’s speaking with an adversary in the interview room of a prison. We revisit that scene at the end of the episode, but the majority of action takes place in the current day.
Woll alongside her sidekick, Ayla (Iselin Shumba Skjævesland), are summoned to a snowy forest where the body of a young mother has been found and her daughter has gone missing. The daughter is quickly found, and when the body of the woman’s ex-husband is also discovered – seemingly with a suicide note taking responsibility for her murder – it would appear an open-and-shut case. But Woll suspects otherwise and is suspicious about changes the woman made to her appearance and lifestyle in recent years and months.
Sure enough, the victim – a former teacher now turned PA – had a number of secrets that she’d kept from her friends and family which reveal some very different side to the seemingly innocuous image she portrayed.
Mostraum is excellent in the lead role, and it’s an entertaining show. The plotline in this opening episode is a bit shaky, but it’s a pleasant enough way to while away the time. The issue I have with this, and a number of similar shows, is the stereotypical nature of the characters. Woll is the cliched feisty female cop in a male-dominated force. Her male bosses are all idiots who can’t see the patently obvious holes in their case that she’s noticed. Woll also has a typical dodgy private life – a relationship with a journalist – which sometimes impinges on her work situations. With the exception of Woll, most of the characters follow an all too predictable formula and lack any real sense of depth. But perhaps I’m being harsh – after all, with such short episodes, it’s probably virtually impossible to get any real complexity to their personalities.
What I did enjoy – and what sets this show apart from the norm – was the reveal at the end of the opening episode. I certainly didn’t see that coming, so hats off to the writers for that particular twist. You will have to watch it to see what I’m talking about!
If you enjoy strong female-led police procedurals, give this a go.
Walter Presents: ‘For Life’ is available as a full boxset now on Walter Presents via C4 Streaming.