ITV Encore - Sky Box Set
DVD - November 2016
Good performance from the main character
The ending is not predictable
Story telling is not as tight as it could be
Too many characters are not clearly good or bad
Strong language in certain episodes is out of tone of the overall feel
Are you looking for that next Nordic Noir to keep you glued to the sofa and unable to press anything other than Next Episode? Ängelby may not be it.
Ängelby is a Swedish production mostly set in the rural town of Ängelby. Vera is our central character who we meet in episode one in the midst of life dealing her a rotten hand. After losing a job and losing a husband, Vera leaves behind her pointless city life. So with her two children she travels to the country to take up a position in the distant Ängelby. A town which should have nothing to offer anyone looking to improve thei situation. However it offers Vera her only ticket out of her old life and a chance of a new future.
On her way into Ängelby, Vera apparently runs over the teams star hockey player, Jesper, and it is the death of Jesper that helps to draw Vera into the mystery of what is going on in this town.
Think X Files meets Twin Peaks with some fantasy fairy tale weaving the story together. That might best describe what Ängelby is. Lunging from light to dark in the story telling sometimes provides good humour and at other times intense human drama. Switching between vivid colour and standard Nordic darkness also helps to invoke a sense of reality or fairy tale. Although this at least makes it interesting to watch even if not as satisfying as other Nordic thrillers such as The Bridge or The Killing. Just be prepared for some “where did that come from” moments as a new element or character is thrown in to up the mystery stakes.
The inhabitants of Ängelby are gradually revealed over the 12 episodes to know rather more about the town secrets than it seems at first. However, is this a shared secret and if so who is in on it?
None of the townsfolk seem particularly happy or in successful relationships. We also don’t know if there is a good side and a bad side to which we should be pledging allegiance. Consequently, placing the townsfolk firmly on one side or the other is an impossible task. Instead they inhabit that middle ground of fence sitting. Therfore, when a character reveals their true colours it does not carry much weight. Even Vera and her sort of estranged husband don’t spend too much time considering their children or who will look after them – that would get in the way of this stories theme. The story does not have that moral centre that keeps the story telling tight and the characters well defined. Mystery and secrets is this series main trick.
This does not look the most expensive piece of telly ever made. The story telling could be tighter and less mysterious. The stronger language and more adult bits could be removed without altering the story and characters at all. In certain episodes the strong language is at odds with the feel of the previous episodes.
But what about Vera. I am concerned for Vera. Will the new life that she needs be in her future? The townsfolk seem to have a different plan for her and what that future may be. Her destiny, may well lie in the secrets of Ängelby.
Vera, as portrayed by Mia Skäringer, is the main reason to keep watching to the end. Mia Skäringer plays the weary role of Vera well. With her comedy background the lighter touches are welcome, though are not that common in later episodes. It is believable that Vera at the end accepts her true calling and even with all its faults I still want to know what happens to Vera. I am weirdly enjoying the bumpy ride through this weird town of Ängelby.
Here is the original Swedish trailer which should give a taste for the series
Where to find…
ITV Encore – Tuesdays at 11pm BST
ITV Encore – https://itvstudios.com/programmes/angelby
DVD Available From 14th November 2016