Tag Archives: crime families

The Adulterer (Series 1: 2011)

Since the action in the Dutch series, The Adulterer is sparked by an extramarital affair, it’s easy to see how the series acquired its name. While the title evokes racy images, adultery is just one aspect of this complex crime series. The alternate, much more appropriate title is Betrayal or Overspel. 

Attractive magazine photographer Iris van Erkel-Hoegaarde (Sylvia Hoeks) is married to public prosecutor Pepijn van Erkel (Ramsey Nasr), and they have a young son together. Although both husband and wife have good careers and a lovely home, we know almost immediately that something is wrong in their marriage. Perhaps it’s Iris’s complete inertia during sex, or perhaps it’s her ability to tune out? Whatever it is, Pepijn, who appears to be a milquetoast, seems blissfully unaware that his mis-matched wife is completely disinterested in him.

At a show of Iris’s photographs, she meets married lawyer Willem Steenhouwer (Fedja van Huêt) the son-in-law of the criminal real estate magnate Huub Couwenberg (Kees Prins), and sparks fly.

Willem is married to Couwenberg’s daughter, Elsie (Rifka Lodeizen). Elsie is so busy running her barely-staying afloat restaurant, that she’s also unaware that her family is falling apart. Not only does Willem begin an affair with Iris, but Elsie and Willem’s twin teenagers Marco (Jeffrey Hamilton) and Marit (Sirid ten Napel) begin dealing with crises of their own when Marco brutally attacks one of Marit’s friends.

The various worlds of the inter-connected characters are fascinating. Huub Couwenberg and his brain-damaged son, Bjorn (Guido Pollemans), live together in mal-adjusted domesticity, and while Bjorn leads a privileged, somewhat sheltered life listening to rock music, playing violent video games and visiting the local brothel, he tries hard to please his father, too hard as the series shows. Huub alternates between explosive anger and affection for the son who frustrates him: a child in a man’s body.

Then there’s Elsie and Willem who lead separate lives with discontented teenagers thrown into the mix. Marit wants to talk about the criminal activities of the family and Marco wants to emulate his grandfather.

But arguably the most chilling aspect of family life is seen in the home of Iris and Pepijn van Erkel. He seems so harmless–with an almost Danny Kaye harmless, buffoonishness to him, but look closely. He’s all over Iris at her exhibition, and then lets her know when he’s waiting, in bed, for sex.

Soon adultery is at the heart of a web of deceit, lies and murder, and the characters who were at one point, divided into the good/bad categories become shades of grey as loyalties clash and various agendas emerge.

There are a few false cliff-hanging moments but certainly not enough to mar this well-acted, addictive series.

In Dutch with subtitles

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Finney (1994)

 “The fact that your husband wants to become a christian isn’t in itself a sign of mental illness.”

Finney is a 5-hour, 6-episode made-for-British television film that follows the struggle for power between various crime families in the North of England.

finney2Finney begins with the brutal murder of the violent Finney family Patriarch and godfather of crime, Irish Tucker Finney (Clive Russell), and this brings prodigal son, jazz musician Stephen Finney (David Morrissey) back to Newcastle. Following the murder, the family gathers for the funeral followed by reading of the will. Tucker Finney, who was a cruel, harsh man in life, continues to run his family even after his death. He leaves almost his entire estate to daughter Lena (Melanie Hill), while to Finney, the eldest son, he leaves a run-down abandoned cinema. Youngest daughter Suzie (Angela Lonsdale) inherits one of the family’s legitimate business concerns, a hotel, and the explosively unpredictable youngest son, Tom (Andy Serkis) is cut out of the will.

Stephen Finney, considered to be the only sensible member of the family by the local constabulary, left Newcastle and his wife and two children many years earlier. Since then, he’s pursued a career in jazz, and he’s hardly successful. When he learns of his inheritance, he decides to convert the ramshackle building into a jazz club, and he enlists the support of his ex-wife, Carol (Pooky Quesnel) to help. Gathering friends and jazz players, Finney sees the jazz club as a way to repair his life, so he sets to work on the restoration. But there’s a slight problem; the building is considered squarely in the territory of rival gang, the Simpson family, headed by Bobo (John Woodvine) and Bobo Jr. (Christopher Fairbank).

While the first episode set the scene for the rest of the drama, and was therefore a bit slow, Finney becomes increasingly more intense as the episodes unfold. The story follows Lena’s efforts to track down and kill her father’s murderer while establishing herself as her father’s successor. Since the area’s criminals are used to being led by a man, Lena has to establish herself as every bit as brutal and fearsome as her father–not an easy task. Meanwhile Tom spirals out of control, and Stephen Finney, despite his best efforts to remain separate from the taint of crime, becomes involved in the family business through a turf war as loyalties clash with his moral code.

Well acted, and well-plotted, if you are into British crime dramas, then Finney is for you. Nothing too brutal, this is more about character against the backdrop of British crime. Some of the flashbacks are repetitive and drag on a bit, but there’s a marvelous sequence in the ghost train at a local fairground. Solid entertainment for fans of British television. From director David Hayman.

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