Drinks in beachside bars, noisy cock fights in local markets, sweaty sex… it doesn’t sound like your standard Scandi drama. That’s because new series Farang isn’t.
The eight-part thriller trades knitwear and frigid temperatures for the sunny climes of Thailand. At a typical island resort, Swedish expat Rickard (Ola Rapace) has carved out a new life for himself – a life that’s about to implode when his daughter shows up looking for him.
Secrets and lies
Rickard has set himself up in a pretty sweet gig – tending bar by day, sleeping with holidaying women by night. No one knows his real name is Ruben Brandt and he intends to keep it that way, even if that means being more than slightly paranoid. He has good reason to be – he’s been on the run for a decade after being involved in some criminal activity back home. He can never return to Sweden and if any of his former associates find out where he is, he’s literally a dead man. Despite the sunny locale, there's a dark undercurrent to Farang and you're always aware that, bubbling away just under the surface, is some serious danger.
Don’t they always show up when it’s least convenient? Rickard’s cluey 15-year-old daughter, Thyra (Louise Nyvall), arrives at Rickard’s hideout brandishing a photo some tourist posted online that shows her dad in the background. Even though she hasn’t seen him since she was a toddler, she’s convinced it’s him. And she’s pretty persistent. In her first TV role, Nyvall has great screen presence – a mix of wide-eyed innocence and tough determination.
Although Rickard dodges his offspring, his paternal instincts kick in when he notices she’s becoming involved with sleazy young hustler Fabian (newcomer Jacques Karlberg). Once a crim always a crim, and Rickard knows a fellow inhabitant of the underbelly when he sees one. But he’s faced with a decision – reveal himself to his daughter to warn her off Fabian or let her become ensnared in his schemes. Rickard's struggle to balance his self-preservation instincts and his paternal responsibility drives Farang – and leads to surprising developments.
Yes, that’s Portuguese but “Hej, Ola” doesn't have the same ring to it. Anyway, the point remains that Ola is pretty easy on the eye. The former Mr Dragon Tattoo – he was married to actress Noomi Rapace for a decade – is best known to international audiences as mercenary Patrice in 2012’s Skyfall. In Farang (which is a Thai term for Europeans), he makes for a compelling leading man. And not just because of his abs.
Farang debuts this Thursday on SBS On Demand.