🇸🇪 THE INNER CIRCLE 🇸🇪
The Inner Circle (2019) aka Den inre cirkeln is a Swedish political drama available on All4 Walter Presents in the U.K. with 8 x 45 min episodes. In Swedish with English subtitles. Guidance.
“David Ehrling will stop at nothing to become Prime Minister. But is it a price worth paying?” (IMDb)
Niklas Engdahl as David Ehrling
Nanna Blondell as Lena Nilsdotter
Ebba Hultkvist Stragne as Josephine Sparre
Olle Sarri as Joel Ehrling
Melinda Kinnaman as Astrid Pahlavi
Barbro ‘Babben’ Larsson as Bojan Eriksson
Sara Askelöf as Säpo Sara
Dag Malmberg as Erik Hansen
Anna Bjelkerud as Elvira Kropp
Evamaria Björk as Ann-Louise Hegel
Max Lapitskij as Sergei
Directors: Håkan Lindhé & Anders Hazelius
Writers: Håkan Lindhé, Anna Platt & Maja Winkler
Composer: Stefan Sporsén
Editors: Andreas Jonsson Hay & Pierre Laurent
The Inner Circle is adapted from the bestselling novel ‘I maktens oga’ by the political strategist, Per Schlingmann.
The Inner Circle was described by Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) as “An intense, character-driven drama straight from the corridors of power…” having watched this series now in full what did I make of it?
The start of this series is impactful with David diving into the sea having passed onlookers and his own security. Straight away we realise this is going to be a story where we see how events have happened which lead to the scene we have just witnessed. In this respect, this is a good start.
We learn about the main characters, including David Ehrling himself and his family, his wife (a designer), a teenage son (her step-son) and a young adoring daughter, his parents and his brother, an unsuccessful writer. Other important characters such as his press secretary Lena and the old family friend Erik are also introduced.
We see a potential scandal avoided and the murder of an investigative journalist. Russian involvement is referenced in one way or another throughout the story. The involvement of the police is all over the place in this story and it loses focus badly in this area. The quirky cop “thing” has potential but is just not realised.
There are some shows where you watch and because of the characters and/or the storyline itself you are enthralled and just cannot wait to watch the next episode to find out what happens next and how it will all end. In this case, I should have been compelled to need to know how David came to commit what appears to be suicide from a place where it looks as if he will be the next Prime Minister. I wasn’t. The Inner Circle failed to do that and I am trying to work out the reasons why because, on paper, this has ALL the ingredients needed to make it enthralling.
It is not the acting that makes this less compelling – I thought all the performances were good and some better than that. Niklas Engdahl has exactly the right look and sets the persona of David perfectly. Olle Sarri is great as his loose-cannon brother, Joel, and I enjoyed the performance of Dag Malmberg as Erik Hansen. Nanna Blondell made for a totally believable aide.
The characters themselves suffer from either underdevelopment (his father, his mother) or are unlikeable, and that includes the central character of David himself. I think we are supposed to be seeing a character arc where he realizes the true value of family and that his ambitions are secondary to their needs. Sadly, this just does not work as he remains a man it is difficult to sympathise with. It is hard to empathise with his wife as well, although I think we are supposed to.
For me, the most interesting characters were Erik and Joel. Erik has depth and we can understand his motivations. Joel is an agent of chaos but also a teller of truths who sees things his supposedly more astute brother does not. At this point, I do however need to say that I found the appalling hairpiece/wig for Joel completely distracting and cannot fathom why anyone thought it was a good idea to use it.
The story itself has so much potential but it does have issues. One is the switching back and forth in time, another is believability especially with the security services and how the press seem to be adept at finding out so much on one hand and then are utterly hopeless at discovering anything about others on the other. Goodness there are some security lapses. There are some great scenes where things appear to be really building up but then they peter out again. It is this failure to retain a degree of tension and jeopardy throughout that damages this show.
I do not mind watching shaky cam but the camerawork in this was so consistently wobbly that I began to long for aerial and other establishing shots just to get some steady camerawork. I think this will cause more of an issue for any viewers that cannot do queasy cam. I can see why they chose this technique for the ‘fly on the wall’ feeling it creates but, honestly, used far too much throughout.
At this point, I should point out (and this might be a surprise considering everything I have written so far) but I did not hate The Inner Circle. It was quite watchable – partly I confess because I wanted to see what Joel did or said next – but at the end of the day, it was all rather average and disappointing. It is as if the show did not quite know what it is and is caught between two stools as a result. Even the end was all rather anticlimactic.
Gothenburg Film Festival (2019) Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize ~ Håkan Lindhé & Fundament Film
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