Reviews of movies and TV focused on women

Review: The Woods

Grzegorz Damiecki, Wiktoria Filus, Agnieszka Grochowska, and Hubert Milkowski in The Woods

The Woods from mystery writer Harlan Coben is a six part Polish original on Netflix.

The Woods takes crimes from two different time periods and stitches them together through the main character Paweł Kopiński (Grzegorz Damięcki, young Paweł is Hubert Miłkowski).

Martyna Byczkowska in The Woods
The missing Kamila

Paweł in a prosecuter in Warsaw. His current case is a rape accusation against two wealthy young men. The woman in the case reminds Paweł of his sister Kamila (Martyna Byczkowska). Twenty-five years ago Kamila disappeared from a summer camp in the woods where Paweł was a counselor. Four kids disappeared – two were found dead and two were never found. Artur (Adam Wietrzyński) and Kamila were the two missing ones.

Grzegorz Damięcki in The Woods
Paweł can investigate things now that he couldn’t as a kid.

The rape case is not the only trigger taking us back into that 1994 camp in the woods. A newly murdered man is found who turns out to be Artur. If Artur was alive for all those years, could Kamila be alive, too? Then another body is unearthed near the lake in the woods. That is a person related to everything else, too.

Old murders and new murders get all tangled up in the twists and turns of this mystery. Plus there are embezzlement, blackmail, the rape case, and assorted other threats and secrets to sort out.

Laura documented the entire summer

Laura (Agnieszka Grochowska, young Laura is Wiktoria Filus) was Paweł’s girlfriend during their time at camp. She’s still part of the story as an adult.

Laura’s father was a teacher at the time. He and Paweł’s mother were having an affair. Both of them were working at the camp.

At almost the same time Kamila disappeared, Paweł’s mother told Paweł she was leaving. She promised to come back for him but never did. In addition to losing his sister and mother, Paweł’s wife died recently. He’s raising his daughter alone. As a woman and mother, I think the unanswered questions that bothered me most as the story progressed to the end involved Paweł’s daughter and who was looking after her.

In working through these assorted crimes, many characters come into the story. We meet the “bad guys” early on, but the writers don’t want you to know they are the bad guys until later in the series. I’m really proud of myself for figuring out who the bad guys were before the big reveals at the end – I normally can’t do that with Harlan Coben stories.

Every episode seemed to open with people in water. I wanted some moment when the significance of that was explained, but it didn’t come. The most important thematic element in the series was the lengths parents go through to protect their children. There were some minor thematic elements around Anti-Semitism, class differences, homophobia, and jealous lovers.

I’ve seen other Polish productions, Ultraviolet and Cold War for example. The Polish film industry seems to be thriving with good actors and directors creating well-crafted stories. In terms of this being a Polish product, it was well done. In terms of all the Harlan Coben mysteries made for television, this wasn’t his best. But, oh well, what mystery lover could turn down the chance at a new Coben? I certainly couldn’t.

poster for The Woods

Here’s the trailer.

Have you seen this one yet? What did you think of it?

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4 responses to “Review: The Woods”

  1. Great job reviewing. I also found myself asking who was watching his daughter. I did really enjoy the series.

    • It was probably the sister-in-law, but it would have been nice to make it more explicit. If the main character were a woman, it would have been. I always enjoy the Harlan Coben mysteries.

    • Not every kid needs a parent hovering around. Some kids get by with minimal parenting and family friends. Tougher with girls of course, but possibly that is just on aspect of the story left out. Stories do tend to leave a lot out by necessity.

      • This girl was quite young, which is where my concern came from. And I understand why that aspect of the story was glossed over in a murder mystery. But it’s something I notice as a mother.

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