Prepare for another Euro TV binge-fest, mina vänner, as Gentlemen & Gangsters, the Swedish love story-drama-thriller miniseries, arrives in the US in little more than a week.
Unlike Twin Peaks, which went from TV series to film, and Fargo, which moved from the cinema screen to the telly screen — years after the originals had completed their first runs — Gentlemen & Gangsters dove headlong into a feature and a series… at the same time.
The film Gentlemen is adapted from the bestselling novel of the same name by acclaimed Swedish author Klas Östergren, while Gentlemen & Gangsters, which consists of four feature-length installments, is based on that novel and its follow-up, Gangsters.
Both projects feature some of Scandinavian film and television’s top actors, including David Dencik (The Last Panthers, Men & Chicken, The Absent One), who leads the cast.
The epic story begins in post-World War II Sweden, where liberation and economic boom meet wild jazz music and poetry… as well as rampant corruption.
Beaten up, bruised, and afraid, young author Klas Östergren (David Fukamachi Regnfors, Hotel) hides out in a Stockholm apartment, writing the story of its vanished inhabitants: the flamboyant, charismatic, enigmatic Morgan brothers.
One year earlier, Klas is rooming with Henry Morgan (Dencik), a boxer, piano player, composer, bartender, and old-fashioned gentleman with a Gatsby-like capacity for turning life into a feast. But behind his glittering façade lurks a darkness — a secret, forbidden love. Together the two friends live the high life in Sweden’s capital until Henry’s younger brother, Leo (Sverrir Gudnason, Wallander), shows up.
An infamous poet, political provocateur, and drunk, Leo quickly drags Klas and Henry into a scandal involving illegal weapons and gangsters, and soon the three men find themselves trapped in a life-threatening plot.
When the era of Gentlemen ends, the reign of Gangsters begins…
Since the mysterious disappearance of his friends, Henry and Leo Morgan — talented, charming, charismatic players embroiled in intrigue and corruption — Klas has been living as a recluse in their deserted apartment. Now, with nothing left to lose, the time has come for him to reveal the truth: Maud’s (Ruth Vega Fernandez, Johan Falk) hidden secrets and her dangerous love triangle with Henry and the powerful business mogul, Wilhelm Sterner (Boman Oscarsson, Call Girl).
As Klas is finishing his book, Maud turns up at the apartment to meet him in person for the first time. Claiming to have left her old life behind, she reads his draft and suggests a few small but fundamental changes. In a dizzying shift of perspective, we realize the story we’ve seen so far is not the whole truth. Henry’s lies and double life are brought to light, and not everyone is who we thought they were.
And after seducing Klas, Maud reveals yet another secret, one that has the guilt-ridden writer packing his things and abandoning Hornsgatan. For good.
As the tale of Gangsters takes us from the late ’70s to the present day, it brings us into a new situation where Klas can finally understand what really happened. The scale of the conspiracy in which the brothers were involved is laid bare, as is Maud’s final secret. Yet there is still more to be revealed…
The series features Sven Nordin (Blue Eyes), Andreas Kundler (The Sandhamn Murders), Amanda Ooms (Ängelby), Magnus Krepper (Millennium), Peter Carlberg (Spring Tide), Christopher Wagelin (Sebastian Bergman), and Dag Malmberg (The Bridge).
Gentlemen & Gangsters, a production of B-Reel Films, co-produced with Sveriges Television (SVT) and distributed by Wild Bunch, is written by Klas Östergren. The producers are Fredrik Heinig (King of Devil’s Island), Gabija Siurbyte (The Crown Jewels), and Johannes Åhlund (Bad Faith). The director is Mikael Marcimain (Call Girl), who said this about the series:
“Gentlemen tells a delightful tale from different perspectives. It takes us to smoky jazz clubs in Paris during the early, hope-filled sixties, to a threatening Cold War-era Berlin, to dope-drenched music festivals in the 70s, and shady, illegal weapons dealing during World War II. It is a story about the joy of telling stories, the art of lying and the difficulty of finding the truth.
“Although the thriller elements of Gentlemen and Gentlemen & Gangsters are key to the saga of the Morgan brothers, it’s the emotional relationship between the characters that also makes this story a film about love and friendship. We will be affected by the hopeless, unpredictable and often deceitful character of Henry, as well as his whimsical truth-seeking brother Leo. They are two self-destructive and disreputable gentlemen but it’s their flaws that make them human. We can see ourselves in them.”
Gentlemen & Gangsters premieres in the US on Wednesday, 1 June 2016, on Netflix.