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'Straight Forward' is on Track with Great Acting
June 10, 2019  | By David Hinckley

If you’ve been dying for a crime thriller that unfolds simultaneously in New Zealand and Denmark, your long wait ends with Straight Forward.

Straight Forward, which becomes available starting Monday through Acorn, bets on our getting invested in a sort of antihero, in the style of Michele Dockery’s character from the late Good Behavior.

Sylvia Petersen (Cecilie Stenspil, top) is a small-time Danish con woman who has essentially gone into the family business. Her father, Des (Andrew Grainger, bottom), is a larger-time con man who lately has been smuggling stolen furniture from places like Belarus.

In the classic style of The Godfather and other crime family dramas, Dad is a wonderful guy who loves his family, takes them to expensive dinners, and really would do pretty much anything for them. They adore him just as much as they would if he didn’t steal for a living.

So one night, Sylvia and her coming-of-age daughter Ida (Marie Boda) meet Mom, Marie (Vibeke Hastrup, bottom), and Dad for dinner. There’s a bit of a kerfuffle with Ida, who resents Sylvia always badmouthing her father, but the real headline from the evening is that as Des and Marie walk out after dinner toward their car, a black SUV pulls up, and a man jumps out and shoots Des dead.

The gunman, it turns out, is of little consequence. The hit was ordered by an even bigger-time crook named Ravn (Mark Mitchinson). Something about 18 million kroner and stealing.

Anyhow, Sylvia knows enough about Dad’s business that she instantly pegs Ravn as the culprit. The police know it, too. Trouble is, the police can’t do anything without evidence, which seems to be scarce.

Sylvia has no such constraints. Her problem is that her stab at instant justice goes awry, forcing her to put on a new wig and catch the next plane for New Zealand, where she hopes Ravn doesn’t have eyes and ears.

Ravn does, however, have a pretty viable network back in Denmark, and he’s aware that Marie and Ida are still around. That gives him serious leverage and presents a major challenge for Sylvia.

How does she stay hidden while ensuring the safety of two people halfway around the world?

Straight Forward sets up an interesting and somewhat complicated story, with numerous potential crime and thriller elements.

It has a few characters who are more or less good guys, though the other kind outnumbers them. The big question for most viewers will be how much they sympathize with and pull for Sylvia.

She’s not a bad person, as they say, but living in a dirty world has left her with dirty hands. That world has also left her with a default mode of suspicion, and she doesn’t always play perfectly with others.

Stenspil does a good job creating the character, and we’d like her mission to succeed. It’s just not the easiest journey in which to become invested.

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