This place lies like a battlefield: a woman hangs upside down in a capsized kayak near the shore, her hair swaying strangely peacefully in the river. The camera appears, glides along the stony river bank where a dead couple lie, both with bloody wrists, in a final embrace. A few yards away, a body is lying face down on the rock, its limbs strangely twisted. Above him, a man hangs from a noose from the bridge, on the roadway of which a whole family was thrown out of the car in a car accident.
The opening sequence of the New Zealand series “One Lane Bridge” looks like a dark prophecy and a memorial at the same time: Something is wrong with the bridge from which it is named. The young policeman Ariki Davis discovered this shortly after his arrival in Queenstown, New Zealand, near which this strange place is located. In this place he repeatedly has delusions and tears in the film, doubts his judgment. But who wants to talk to new colleagues about the fact that you no longer trust your own senses?
A simple crime thriller turns into a mystery thriller in slow motion
The wife of his new boss Stephen Tremaine tells him that it is a suicide bridge. Therefore, the first case that Ariki is supposed to clear up with Stephen seems more than clear. The shepherd Grub Ryder lies dead on the stony bank one morning – he probably jumped off the parapet out of desperation because his business is hardly profitable. But how did Grub get to the bridge outside and why is his watch missing?
The evidence points to a murder. Almost the whole family would have a motive – wife Kate, because she knew that Grub had a relationship, the siblings because he wanted to sell the farm to foreign investors. Incidentally, the series also tells of the problems that the region’s enormous economic and tourism boom has been causing for several years. Queenstown is New Zealand’s fastest growing city. In contrast, family-run farms hardly stand a chance.
“One Lane Bridge” unfolds a classic Whodunit logic in which everyone suspects everyone and a shrewd investigator uses rational combinations to track down the perpetrator. But who this head-ridden cop is here is becoming increasingly unclear: Stephen seems to be pursuing his own agenda, is making evidence disappear – and Ariki’s perspective could not be more unreliable. But this is precisely what the series benefits from: It turns a simple crime thriller into an effective mystery thriller in slow motion and links these supernatural moments with Maori myths. Only gradually can Ariki admit the appearances and interpret them as “Matakite”. In the Maori faith, this gift of vision enables the living to see the deceased. The bridge, it seems, is a portal into the realm of the dead. Ariki has to let go of his rationality to find clarity.
One Lane Bridge, six episodes from 9 September on Arte and until 14 November in the media library.