21st Jul2017

‘Public Enemy: The Complete Season’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf


When you’ve seen enough Nordic Noir style series you tend to see certain formulas to the stories. Public Enemy is one that definitely feels familiar, but instead of familiarity breeding content, this time it offers an engrossing experience.

When federal police investigator Chloe Muller (Stéphanie Blanchoud) is given the task to protect Guy Beranger (Angelo Bison) a convicted child murderer, she begrudgingly takes the case. Released on parole to the Vielsart Abbey, it isn’t long before there is a public outcry from the nearby village. Matters are made worse when a local child is murdered, and he automatically the prime suspect. But is all as it seems?

Bringing together a male and female police duo seems to be a favourite of Nordic Noir series, and for the most part it works well. One of my favourite variations is The Bridge/The Tunnel because of the engaging characters. With Public Enemy, it feels like the duo we are presented with are similar, but in a less extreme way.

Chloe is a character who is haunted by her past, when her sister was kidnapped. Blaming herself for the abduction, she is haunted by her sister, which not only hampers her ability to live her life, but also puts her under more scrutiny than the average cop. Her relationship that she builds up with her fellow police man Michael Charlier (Jean-Jacques Rausin) helps to keep her grounded, but it also exposes her weakness.

Public Enemy #1, Guy Beranger is an interesting character. Never truly showing any redemption for his past, there are elements to him that feel very much like they are based on a Hannibal style nemesis for Chloe. He may not be a psychologist (or cannibal) but his manipulation of sadism is never hidden from the audience. There is little to redeem him, or to make us pity him. If anything, he is a character set up to cause problems, not only in this season but possibly seasons after this.

When an element like Beranger is added into a small-town setting, it always works well (in Nordic Noir at least) to expose the dark underbelly of the little community. The mystery of the child murders tears a wound into suburban life, and of course Beranger is the easy person to blame. It comes as no surprise of course that there are more secrets, and twists to complicate the story.

What is really interesting about Public Enemy is the way it sets up not only the characters, but it looks to a possible future too. When the story ends, we are still left with mysteries to be solved, as well as a tease to Chloe’s own personal story and what happened to her sister. The fact that Beranger will give her information for a price teases that we’ll see more about their relationship in the future.

While Public Enemy does tread a road that does seem familiar, it provides an engrossing journey into the selfish and dark side of human nature. While part of the answer to the mystery is easy to spot, the true culprit behind the crime isn’t and that is what makes the story interesting. A sign of a good show is that when the last episode ends, it leaves you wanting more. Public Enemy achieves that, and leaves you in hope that the second season provides the answers not only for Chloe, but for the audience too.

****½   4.5/5

Public Enemy: The Complete Season is available on DVD in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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