A riveting thriller from Luxembourg

Sunny Mahat

Sunny Mahat

A riveting thriller from Luxembourg

When I use the phrase “labyrinth of mysteries” to describe what police inspector Capitani is going through in the series with his name, I do not overstate

One thing leads to another, they say. And this time, it happened to me over Netflix. After watching the mysterious mini-series “Behind Her Eyes” last week, I decided to rummage for more Netflix series. A quick search for what’s new on the OTT platform brought me to “Capitani”, a crime drama series from Luxembourg.

Yes, you read that right. Luxembourg! Released February 2021 on Netflix, “Capitani”— which originally premiered in Luxembourg’s national television in 2019—is apparently first Luxembourg’s first crime series as well as the country’s first Netflix series. Also, obviously, the first ever Luxembourgish movie or cinema for me, which, I am sure, will be the same for most of ApEx’s Nepali audiences.

Police inspector Luc Capitani (Luc Schiltz) is called in from the country’s south to investigate the possible murder of a 15-year-old Jenny Engel whose body is found in a forest near the northern village of Mënscht. The arrival of an unfamiliar inspector stirs things up in the close-knit village where everyone knows everyone. In the otherwise peaceful rural setting without a history of violent crimes, the only police force available for Capitani’s backup are two officers, one of whom is Elsa Ley (Sophie Mousel), and who plays a key role in supporting his investigation. 

For Capitani, what initially looks like an open-and-shut case turns out to be a labyrinth of interconnected mysteries that point at multiple directions. As unwelcome as he is made to feel by the villagers, his key witness—Jenny’s twin Tanya (Jil Devresse)—refuses to cooperate. Also, the twins’ mother, Nadine Kinsch (Claude de Demo), goes through another tragic bereavement while her estranged husband Mick Engel (Jules Werner) makes his way back into her life, and right in the middle of the investigation, further complicating things.

As if the complications were not enough for our sleuth Capitani, he meets Carla Pereira (Brigitte Urhausen)—an old lover and a drugs trafficker who he has had a mysterious past with—living in the village under the alias of Sofia Santos. He tries to solve the case despite all the hindrances while attempting to resolve his issues with Carla. Meanwhile, Capitani is himself being investigated by the Internal Affairs office for his possible involvement in the murder of a gangster 15 years ago.

When I use the phrase “labyrinth of mysteries” to describe what Capitani is going through in “Capitani”, I do not overstate. Right from the opening shot, the writers of the series— Thierry Faber, Eric Lamhène, Christophe Wagner (who is also the director)—weave an intricate web of suspense and secrets which unfolds till the very end. The unexpected climax also justifies the build-up and sets up the premise for season 2, while satisfyingly concluding the first season.

Consistency in the story, screenplay and direction are the keys to Capitani’s successful breakout into the global platform. The series has no indications of belonging to a relatively new film industry and there’s no sign of inexperience in the 12-episode series. The whole production works as a package to deliver an entertainer that could easily compete with some of the most popular new Netflix releases.

Who should watch it?

“Capitani” is not only an entertaining thriller but also an educational one as it provides a rare glimpse into the people and society of the exotic Luxembourg. For example, it took me the whole first episode to realize that the Luxembourgish language also has a major influence of German and French. (Maybe Belgian, too, but I wouldn’t recognize that.)

Also, watching this series you realize what living in a “full democracy” is like. The policing there seems to be entirely different from Nepal, India or even the US, which we are used to seeing on screen. The landlocked country 57 times smaller than ours has belted out one of the best international series of contemporary times and any movie/series fan will definitely enjoy “Capitani.”

Rating: 4 stars

Genre: Crime, thriller

Run time: 5hrs 30mins (approx.)

Actors: Luc Schiltz, Jil Devresse, Claude de Demo

Director: Christophe Wagner