Tampere in Finland is the unusual and unassuming setting for this intriguing thriller from the Walter Presents folks, known as ‘Kansan vihollinen’ in its native Finnish and ‘Enemy of the People’ here in the UK.
If you want to avoid all spoilers, stop reading this article now.
Katja Salonen is a young ambitious journalist more used to writing inoffensive pieces about Finns enjoying their first ice-cream of the summer season than anything too controversial. So, when she writes a less than complimentary story about Samuli Tolonen – Finland’s most celebrated footballer and Tampere folk hero – the vitriol she receives the next day via email and social media is as unpleasant as it is predictable.
Katja’s editor is none too pleased either. But Katja isn’t put off, and she decides to dig deeper into Tolonen and his business deals. In particular, she focuses on his involvement in a scheme to finance a new stadium for the local football team (some of the footage is shot at Tampere Stadium, home of Ilves, Tampere’s football team). She suspects that there has been some financial impropriety involved and uncovers widespread corruption that involves not only the local sporting celebrity, but other high-ranking officials in town.
Initially unwilling to speak with her directly, she surprisingly receives a phone call from Tolonen himself, telling her that he wants to unburden himself and reveal all. He’s currently residing in his villa in Barcelona, but suggests that they meet up in a few days when he returns to Finland. She can’t believe her luck and discusses the matter with her colleagues at the paper.
News soon circulates among those involved in the corruption that Tolonen is about to spill the beans to this nosey reporter. But one person decides to take steps to stop him talking to her – or to anyone else, for that matter.
This is a delightfully Finnish thriller. There are no car chases or shoot-outs. Even the violent death at the end of the opening episode is almost apologetic in its manner. There’s no shouting or screaming – the murder is only audible by a distant “thud” as the body hits the floor. The characters are all wholesome, healthy folks with sensible haircuts and uncluttered houses.
I happen to like that. I’ve been to Tampere a couple of times. It’s not an obvious holiday destination, although it’s perfectly pleasant. But it’s an honest, open and welcoming city – just don’t expect exuberant outpourings of affection. That’s not the Tampere way.
Kreeta Salminen, who plays Katja, is very impressive in the lead role; you might also recognise her from ‘All The Sins’ and ‘Deadwind’, two excellent Finnish crime series. If you enjoy typically understated Scandinavian drama with an engaging protagonist, give this a whirl.
Walter Presents: ‘Enemy of the People’ will be available as a full boxset on C4 Streaming from Friday 4th August 2023.