ATTENTION: as you continue reading you may come across spoilers on An almost normal family.
She came out yesterday Friday 24 November 2023, A Nearly Normal Family (the original title), a miniseries consisting of six episodes, taken from the writer’s most famous novel Mattias Edvardssonmulti-million-selling Swedish novelist.
The television adaptation for Netflix which adds to the already copious Nordic catalog is edited by Hans Jörnlind e Anna Platt while the direction was entrusted to Per Hanefjordalready known for Any country, Murders among the fjords – The secret child e Rig 45.
An almost normal familyespecially considering the particular moment we are experiencing these days, here in Italy, it could turn out particularly engaging for the topics covered. The story, in fact, begins with a sexual assault suffered by the protagonist. A violence that It will forever mark his life and that of his parents. Apparently, it could be another story of brutality towards a girl, in this case not even of age, as there are already some in the catalog of Netflix, some of which are really well done. In reality, this Swedish miniseries deals with the whole matter, focusing in particular on the two parents who, despite believing her, will give her obviously wrong advice.
Stella, played by Alexandra Karlsson Tyrefors (here at her first experience in front of a camera) is a girl like many others. During a retreat with the women’s handball team in which she plays, she falls in love with the new assistant coach. There is an immediate feeling between the two that turns into passion in an instant. The two kiss, looking for a hidden refuge to continue exchanging effusions. Stella, however, he has second thoughts. He says no while the other insists. She tries to refuse him but in the end she remains petrified and suffers the violence which is interrupted, fortunately, by the arrival of another adult.
Her father, Adam, comes to pick up Stella (Björn Bengtsson) who takes her home. During the journey he discovers that the facts he was told do not correspond to reality: Stella was raped. So he calls his wife (Lo Shop), lawyer, who, once home, questions Stella drawing a chilling conclusion: no point in filing a complaint. Useless because her work experience has often put her face to face with such dramas. Dramas in which the victim is accused and the culprit, too often, manages to get away with it.
A few years later Stella is nineteen and works in a pastry shop. She knows Chris (Christian Fandango Sundgren), a handsome man broker much older than her, with whom she begins a relationship. However, Chris is murdered and Stella is accused of her murder.
The miniseries develops around the period that Stella spends in prison before the trial in which she will be charged. While the girl is in her cell the viewer lives through flashback the whole relationship with Mikael discovering, only at the last scene, how things really happened.
In addition to the protagonist’s point of view, that of the parents is also highlighted as they undertake, each in their own way, a series of countermeasures to try to provide an alibi for their only daughter, who they consider guilty. So the father lies to the investigators. While the mother hides her blood-stained clothes, later throwing away both the murder weapon and her daughter’s cell phone.
The different narrative levels, as often happens, allow the viewer to follow the story almost live. During the six episodes, then, the various pieces of the puzzle they begin to unite thus allowing the viewer to overlap the three main stories and have a clearer picture of the story. There are no particular twists, the story is quite simple, and no holes in the plot. Everything flows calmly, without jolts, until the end, so as not to excessively burden the viewer, already experienced by a story that is in itself chilling.
An almost normal family mixes different genres. There’s a little bit of crime, a bit of procedural. It is, however, a thriller That delves into the drama of a seemingly perfect familyenvied by friends and neighbors, who is hit by a boulder of biblical proportions.
The murder of Stella’s partner is the drop that overflows a vessel now full of resentment, hatred, rancor. Of said and, above all, unsaid.
Some scenes are truly emblematic in this sense because they perfectly describe how the trauma of the violence suffered in the past has never been overcome, assuming that such violence can be overcome.
In a the mother confides to a friend that she is disappointed in her daughter because she dropped out of school and doesn’t look like her at all. She reproaches her for not taking advantage of all the possibilities she was given, finding it inconclusive, devoid of purpose. In another, in prison, Stella faces a journey with the psychologist. During a session, finally, the girl manages to vent the pain and guilt resulting from the violence she suffered by crying. A third, however, features the father who, having tracked down his daughter’s rapist, punches him, years later.
These three scenes are perfect for describing the state of mind of the three protagonists which can be perfectly summarized in the photo that appears during the opening theme song where the three are seen together, with three different expressions printed on their faces: the smiling father, the daughter with a smile just mentioned and the mother with tight lips.
An almost normal familyexcluding the father and the defense lawyer, it’s all about female figures. Stella, her mother, her best friend Amina (Melisa Ferhatovic), Chris’ ex-girlfriend, the psychologist, the judge, the prosecutor and even the pastor, his father’s colleague, are all very well described women, with a precise role within the story. Nothing seems to be left to chance and none of these characters are placed as fillers.
Each is connected to Stella in some way and with Stella she is forced to do the math. The confrontation, even remotely, with the violence suffered by the girl and then the accusation of murder allows these women to carry out a very profound examination of conscience. Some will benefit from it. Others, however, will remain what they are. But none will emerge completely unscathed.
None, however, never talks about this cumbersome past except during the trial, when Amina scratches away that thin crust that covers a never-healed wound, making it bleed again. The initial rape, in fact, is there, always present. She hovers in the air and weighs on consciences in a different way. After all, we know, not everyone reacts the same way. But Amina has the courage to say that no one gave credit to the pain suffered by Stella, thus strengthening their friendship.
An almost normal family it never descends into melodrama. Even the most dramatic scenes have a dignity and a coldness Nordic always present. There are no particular moments of suspense and practically immediately it is clear who the culprit is. Not even the initial trauma suffered by Stella is such a preponderant factor. Nonetheless, the viewer is invited to continue watching because the characters have something magnetic that attractsirremediably, to the next episode.
Is Stella guilty? Yes? No? Perhaps? The story is not all here. She is not reduced to her guilt or to her acquittal. It goes much further.
Face the silence. She faces the consequences of choosing not to report which drag her like an anchor towards the darkest abyss. Address the doubt, uncertainty and lack of trust that, sometimes and unfortunately, loved ones have towards us. Those loved ones who should, instead, support us in times of difficulty. There is complexity and contradiction in this miniseries. And it is no coincidence that Stella’s father is a pastor and that he must face the consequences of his lies before God.
An almost normal family it’s a miniseries… he would be. Which must be seen. Not a masterpiece but made with a certain care and attention, capable of tackling a topic that is never talked about enough without false rhetoric nor, much less, excessive moralism. As in a news story, the events narrated are dry, rawand provide the viewer with sufficient material to make a judgment on the matter and the characters.
Even though it does not present any particular stylistic innovations, it is capable of attracting the attention of those who watch it right from the start also thanks to the stage presence of its protagonists, which is decidedly commendable and which in certain moments is truly moving.