It’s an identity-swap thriller with a twist when Game of Thrones’ Kristofer Hivju plays twins – one of whom has to pretend to be his own dead brother.
Anthony Morris

24 Dec 2019 - 11:49 AM  UPDATED 24 Dec 2019 - 11:49 AM

Taking on a dead man’s identity. Leading a double life as the police slowly circle in. A web of secrets stretching back years. A loveless marriage that ends in murder. Twin sounds like a greatest hits collection of noir thriller plotlines – only none of them play out quite like you might think.

Erik (Kristofer Hivju) has been standing still for the last 15 years. Well, not literally; for most of that time he’s really been standing on a surfboard. Fifteen years ago he and his twin brother founded a surfing community on a tiny Norwegian beach with nothing but a pair of boards and a battered caravan. A decade and a half later and Erik is still living in that same caravan, pushing 40 but living like a man half his age.

Hivju’s best known for playing the (relatively) lovable wildling Tormund on Game of Thrones (he was the one with the crush on Brienne of Tarth). His role there held this series up for years; reportedly every year they expected his character to be killed off and so were all set to start filming, only to be told he’d survived for another season. His rough-and-tumble role there seems to be a perfect fit with Erik’s footloose surfing lifestyle – but there’s a big change in store.

Out of nowhere, Erik loses everything he has (to be fair, that’s not much), and reaches out to his estranged brother Adam (Kristofer Hivju). Since they split, Adam has moved up the coast to the stunning fjord island of Sakrisøy (this series was shot in autumn in Norway’s northern Lofoten region, and the locations are amazing; if you’re even slightly interested in taking a trip to Norway, this will push you over the edge).

In a way, Adam and Erik aren’t so different: they both work in tourism, getting people to enjoy what their region has to offer. But for Adam, that means luring tourists to the island to experience “traditional Norwegian living” (remember those amazing locations? Turns out even Norwegians think they’re worth visiting), which mostly involves camping and fishing at a steep price. It’s a steady business, but compared to Erik’s surf compound, it verges on the soulless.

It hasn’t done much for Adam’s home life either. He’s married to Ingrid (Rebekka Nystabakk) and they have a daughter and an adoptive son together, but they’re hardly close – and when Erik shows up looking for help, Adam pushes him away too. The brothers fight, Ingrid gets caught up in it, and she ends up accidentally killing her husband.

Fortunately, she has a spare.

It’s not quite as simple as that, but the circumstances of Adam’s death are such that Ingrid quite rightly fears it won’t be seen as an accident by the authorities. So to avoid a murder investigation (and to solve Erik’s current problems), Erik takes on the role of Adam. How hard could it be to pretend to be your own identical twin?

Rather than dispose of the body, they just make it look like it was Erik rather than Adam who died. Which means that yes, there’s a cop sniffing around, and policeman Frank (Gunnar Eiriksson) is probably a little too personally involved in the case of “Erik’s” death. But on the up side, Erik got to go to his own funeral and find out what the locals really thought of him (as it turns out, not all that much).

Twin takes place over a single week, and some of its most minor scenes turn out to be the most nail-biting. Adam isn’t a stranger in his community; his marriage might have been a bit iffy, but he was well known and respected, a man who spent his days dealing with people. Erik, on the other hand, hasn’t had much to do with his brother for well over a decade. Suddenly now he has to act like a man he barely knows in front of a community who’ve seen him every day of the week.

At one stage Erik has to take Adam’s son to kindergarten, and as soon as that chore becomes more complicated than a simple drop-off, the whole thing becomes a minefield of ducking questions and trying to figure out what he’s supposed to know. There’s murder and lies and police closing in, but a lot of what makes Twin so gripping is the combination of high stakes and the small scale nature of Erik’s plight. It’s a high wire act he can’t come down from, making even the simplest of day-to-day chores a nerve-wracking attempt at subterfuge. One mistake and it could all come crashing down.

He's about to realise it takes more than just a beard to become someone you’re not.

Twin is available to stream at SBS On Demand 

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The Playlist 113 - Best movies and TV shows of 2019 / Celine Sciamma interview - 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

As we count down the days remaining in 2019, join Ben, Fiona, and special guest John, as they count down their favourite movies and TV shows the year. They laugh, they disagree, and they realise there's not as much crossover on their lists as they expected (*especially when they make up their own rules about what constitutes the 'best' in a 'best of' list). Fiona is joined by special guest, Celine Sciamma, director of 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire', which is in cinemas on Boxing Day and which also - spoiler - rates pretty highly on Fiona's best of 2019 movies list.  Fiona also reviews the full list of Boxing Day releases, as Ben and John reveal what they'll be watching over summer. It's a big episode to cap off a big year. Happy holidays to all and see you again in 2020. 

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