Socialist Worker

The City & The City—a Noir thriller set on a brutal border

Issue No. 2599

David Morrissey as Tyador Borlú in The City and The City

David Morrissey as Tyador Borlú in The City and The City (Pic: BBC)


David Morrissey stars as Inspector Tyador Borlú. He’s a world?weary middle?aged police inspector with an unshakeable commitment to smoking. His work partner is a feisty woman cop in her twenties who swears a lot.

They’re investigating the murder of a young woman who their colleagues assume was a prostitute, and whose death reminds the inspector of a previous investigation that continues to haunt him.

So far so familiar.

What initially appears as a straightforward setting emerges as something stranger.

At its centre is the constructed nature of borders. We all know that at least half the borders in the world are simply lines drawn on a map.

As China Miéville previously told Socialist Worker about his novel on which the series is based, “There is no intrinsic reason that a border is here rather than a foot to the left or a foot to the right. But at the same time, they are illusions and real things. A border will fuck you up—a border can kill you.”

The City and The City triangulates eastern European kitsch, hard?boiled crime fiction and fantasy.

It plays with tropes of noir and cop programmes mostly—though not totally —successfully.

The strangeness at the corner of the viewer’s vision is effective and important. The atmosphere is ominous. And as Raymond Chandler didn’t say, it is so far entertaining to watch a good man walk down these multiple mean streets.


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Tue 10 Apr 2018, 14:29 BST
Issue No. 2599
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