A Nearly Normal Family
This post contains spoilers for Netflix’s A Nearly Normal Family. From The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to The Snowman to The Killing, English-language adaptations of popular Nordic noir properties have become known for making cultural waves. But there are many more compelling entries in the dark and moody Scandinavian subgenre of crime fiction that have been developed for the screen in their original language. And as of Nov. 24, a new one has arrived on Netflix: A Nearly Normal Family. Based on Swedish author M.T. Edvardsson’s best-selling 2019 novel of the same name, the gripping six-part miniseries chronicles the fallout from the brutal stabbing of 32-year-old Christoffer Olsen (Christian Fandango Sundgren) in the Swedish city of Lund. The day after the murder, 19-year-old Stella Sandell (Alexandra Karlsson Tyrefors) is arrested for the crime, pushing her parents—pastor Adam (Björn Bengtsson) and attorney Ulrika (Lo Kauppi)—to go to desperate lengths to protect their daughter from the accusations levied against her. While the book is divided into three distinct sections told from the points of view of Adam, Stella, and Ulrika, respectively—all unreliable narrators in their own way—the show jumps back and forth between the family members’ perspectives. The first episode opens with 15-year-old Stella being sexually assaulted by an older counselor while away at handball camp (changed from church camp in the book). Although Stella tells her parents about the incident, they decide not to report it to the police, believing that the case against the counselor will ultimately fail and only cause more harm to Stella. This fateful choice echoes throughout the rest of the story, deeply affecting Stella’s relationship with her parents, men, and herself. make this content plag free make this content plag free
Propelling ahead by four years to Stella’s 19th birthday, the night she serendipitously encounters Chris and sparks a relationship with him. In a mere six weeks, Chris succumbs to fate, and Stella finds herself in custody, plunging her parents into disarray as they endeavor to shield their daughter. Concurrently, they confront the awareness of their own deficiencies as both parents and life partners.
Guided by Per Hanefjord (renowned for Hamilton and The Hidden Child), with a script honed by Anna Platt (celebrated for The Congregation and The Truth Will Out) and Hans Jörnlind (acclaimed for Top Dog and The Truth Will Out), A Nearly Normal Family unfurls as a suspense-laden exploration of an ostensibly ordinary family thrust into a crisis.
Reflecting on the venture, Hanefjord conveyed to Netflix, “Since the inception of this narrative, I’ve appreciated its intrinsic profundity. It raises nuanced issues, delving into character intricacies, all the while sustaining a captivating suspense. The actors leave me in awe, and there’s a palpable sense of contributing to something momentous, witnessing the rise of new luminaries in cinema.”
How does the conclusion of A Nearly Normal Family on Netflix unfold?
When Amina takes the stand as a character witness for Stella during the trial, she astounds the prosecutors with a revelation—she asserts that Chris drugged and raped her on the night of his murder. Amina recounts fleeing his apartment, only discovering his demise the following morning. She explains that, due to Chris’ ex-girlfriend Linda’s previous attempt to report him for a similar offense and the history of Stella’s assault, she hesitated to come forward, fearing disbelief.
Ulrika, well-versed in legal matters, advised Amina to withhold this information until the trial. This strategic move prevented prosecutors from attempting to convict both Amina and Stella for the murder. By delaying her testimony, Amina introduces an alternative suspect, making it challenging to find Stella guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Ulrika’s plan unfolds as intended, leading to Stella’s exoneration.
Nevertheless, in the finale, flashbacks gradually unveil the truth behind Chris’ death. Upon discovering that Chris had drugged and abducted Amina, Stella rushed to his residence to rescue her friend. Breaking into the apartment, she witnessed Chris’s actions and aided Amina’s escape. The series concludes months after the trial, with Stella recalling one last flashback to that night. It reveals that, indeed, she fatally stabbed Chris after he pursued her and Amina with a knife, stumbled, and dropped the weapon. Amina assisted Stella in concealing the knife, and both kept the complete truth to themselves.