'The City & The City'
(David Morrissey, Christian Camargo, Ron Cook, Mandeep Dhillon, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)
Overview: Inspector Tyador Borlú (David Morrissey) of the Extreme Crime Squad in the European city-state of Beszel, investigates the murder of a student from Beszel's twin-city of Ul Qoman - which occupies the same space but is perceived differently.
DVD Verdict: As we quickly discover, cases like this are run of the mill for Borlú until he discovers evidence that the victim had been visiting BesŸel’s prosperous neighboring city, Ul Qoma.
This shouldn’t be possible as citizens of each city are forbidden from seeing or interacting with each other, and borders are policed by the terrifying Breach.
As he attempts to solve the case, Borlú comes to realize he has a personal connection to the crimes and must embark on an odyssey of the mind to find the truth he has always been seeking.
In truth, I had never come across 'The City & The City' before and instantly upon watching it found this mind-bending trip into a place I wouldn't have ever imagined enjoying being one of the most interesting, intriguing, thought provoking fantasy/sci-fi detective thrillers I have had the pleasure to watch and review in the past 20 years.
It is shot in a grim way with a budget that is not quite large enough to reach its ambitions, but almost gets there by sheer will power. If you look hard enough you can see some parts of Liverpool (UK), but don't let that distract you from the overall visual effects here.
Sure, I did find the series rather confusing at times, but during its transmission I visited Berlin and this gave me another dimension to understand the series!
David Morrissey plays a hard boiled detective Tyador Borlú , an Inspector in the Beszel Extreme Crime Squad. Beszel is a dinghy city with battered tower blocks, poor, with immigrants and a government that wants to drive the foreigners out. It is a Dystopian society not too far from East Germany.
Borlú is investigating the death of a an American female found dead in Beszel. However she was studying in Ul Qoma so it was a case of what was she doing here? Ul Qoma is a little bit upmarket, with glass towers, affluence and a little bit of style and intellectual sophistication.
Yet it is also anti immigrant and deep down it is also a Dystopian society, maybe West Berlin of the 1970s.
Both cities exist in the same space, residents from both cities ignore each other and have been trained to unsee and ignore the other city. If you cross the cities illegally it is a breach and punishable unless you go through the official crossing points. A bit like Checkpoint Charlie.
As we follow Borlú's investigation with his new potty mouthed partner, we see flashbacks of his wife who disappeared some years earlier. Did she go to Ul Qoma and not return? Borlú crosses over to Ul Qoma and investigates some radicals who believe that there is a mythical third city called Orciny.
In closing, Morrissey is wonderful, he makes the series come alive and for my money and in my humble opinion, the highly under-rated (as it turns out to be) 'The City & The City' is one of the best dramas of 2018/19! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.