Adapted from a novel by Søren Sveistrup, The Chestnut Man (2021) isn’t particularly exceptional but should scratch a certain itch for fans of European crime fiction. In Copenhagen, detective Naia Thulin (Danica Curcic) catches one last homicide just as she’s trying to transfer out of the department: a woman, found dead, with one hand amputated. Naia is teamed with distracted Interpol officer Mark Hess (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), and together they investigate the case. There’s one peculiar clue: a “chestnut man,” made of sticks and chestnuts, found near the crime scene. Oddly, it bears the fingerprints of the daughter of the Minister for Social Affairs, Rosa Hartung (Iben Dorner). Hartung’s daughter was kidnapped years earlier, and has long been presumed dead. As Rosa and her husband Steen (Esben Dalgaard) wrestle with the implications—that their daughter may still be alive—Naia and Mark pursue the case, which gets more desperate as the killer grows more active.
The Chestnut Man won’t making a lasting impression, especially for Nordic noir fans who’ve been around the block a few times. The set-up, plot, and trappings might have rolled right off the assembly line. But Curcic and Følsgaard—increasingly familiar faces in Scandinavian film and TV, and for good reason—develop a fetching rapport as the initially reluctant partnership, one struggling to balance parenthood with career, the other grieving family loss. If the character dynamic isn’t exactly original, it’s well performed, delivering a subdued, platonic romance. This core relationship provides just enough endearing moments to sell the enterprise, but unfortunately the rest of the proceedings don’t offer anything new.