Add this to your to-watch list, then watch it: the slow-burn German thriller The Typist (Die Protokollantin), which has just premiered in the US and Canada.
There is more to Freya Becker than meets the eye.
Freya, the eponymous character played by Iris Berben (Eddie the Eagle) in The Typist, is a police secretary for the Berlin Police Department. On the surface, she’s a widowed 50-something woman who lives alone with a cat, and a reliable civil servant who wears muted-colored office attire and sensible shoes and works in the background without ruffling her colleagues’ feathers.
She has spent her career transcribing gruesome accounts of murder for the detectives — from fathers who shake their babies to death, to husbands who beat their wives to death. The imagery of these crimes lives rent-free in Freya’s head, but most of her mental energy is consumed by her obsession with learning the truth about what happened to her daughter, Marie, who went missing eleven years ago.
This trauma has fueled Freya’s out-of-the-ordinary, some might say renegade, behavior, as she conducts her own brand of investigation to get to the bottom of her daughter’s disappearance — a mission recently triggered by the arrest and trial of Thilo Menken, a man who confessed to sexually abusing a young girl who then disappeared. Freya has been following his court case, and when he is acquitted and released, she follows him.
At roughly the same time, Freya’s boss retires and her new one starts, and the new police commissioner is none other than her old friend, Henry Silowski (Peter Kurth, Babylon Berlin). Henry makes it his first order of business to investigate a missing person case: the disappearance of Menken. Silowski sees similarities with another unsolved case, so he has Freya pulls the files for cold cases going back nearly two decades to see if there are more.
Elsewhere in Berlin, Freya’s brother, Jo (Moritz Bleibtreu, Shades of Guilt), a successful restaurateur, is having problems in his marriage to a temperamental actress, but seems to have made a solid choice in his partnership in a new escort service that is proving to be popular. And in the nearby prison, a criminal that Freya believes is responsible for Marie’s disappearance — or worse, murder — is preparing to be a free man.
As Silowski investigates Menken’s disappearance, he reassigns Anne (Katharina Schlothauer, Homeland), a young but smart, determined and solid detective, to the cold cases. He is also doing his level best to reconnect with his estranged hipster son, Sascha… and to woo Freya. Henry has fallen hard for her, and it’s clear that Freya has feelings for him, too. But her sole focus is on finding out, once and for all, what happened to her daughter. As she spies on people she believes are connected to Marie’s disappearance, she learns something that leaves her gobsmacked and with a bloody nose. Meanwhile, Anne is connecting several investigation dots and a heartbroken Silowski realizes a sad truth.
The narrative of The Typist is as layered as Freya. Here the character development is delivered as character reveals that show us or point us to deeper and deeper levels of her makeup and what she is capable of under the right circumstance. As the still-grieving, ghost-seeing, justice-seeking Freya, Iris Berben is riveting. Peter Kurth also does a bang-up job as Henry, a recovering alcoholic, a regretful father trying hard to make up for lost time with his son, and a lovestruck man who wants desperately to share his life with the woman he adores. The performances of Berben and Kurth drive the story, a gripping, slow-burn tale of love and loss in the quest for truth and closure.
The five-part limited series features Jonas Dassler (The Silent Revolution), Laura de Boer (The Tunnel), Julischka Eichel (Luna & Sophie), Tinka Fürst (Tatort: Cologne), Bettina Hoppe (Tatort), Timur Isik (Flemming), Johannes Krisch (Altes Geld), Andreas Lust (Dark Woods), Misel Maticevic (Babylon Berlin), and Zoe Moore (Tatort).
As of today, Tuesday, April 20, the first two episodes of The Typist are available for streaming in the US and Canada exclusively on MHz Choice and its digital channels, including MHz Choice on Amazon Channels. Two more episodes arrive on April 27, with the fifth and final episode debuting on May 4.
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