“Anxious People” Film Review

The title of this Netflix series might first seem to refer to the people we’ve become and who surround us during COVID. The experts say that rates of mental illness are soaring, and those who were nervous or edgy before the pandemic have gotten worse.

But this film isn’t depressing; indeed, it’s the kind of parable about forgiveness that Jesus would’ve told, or liked. The theme is similar to that of another film by director Felix Herngren, “A Man Called Ove”: Ordinary people undergo dramatic transformation.

A group of eight strangers are caught up in a hostage situation when a robber ruins a chance at a bank, and instead takes over an apartment open house. Why they’re all there reveals their underlying stories and subsequent plot twists. Somehow, it strikes the perfect balance of goofy humor and poignance.

We begin with the cops, a father-son team who are laughably incompetent, deeply human. Perhaps in Sweden where this film is set, the police don’t have such a bad reputation, but it’s a good reminder to North Americans that ours are human too. When the emergency announcement of the bank robbery comes, the younger one, Jack is getting his hair cut; he dashes out and tries to proceed heroically with clips in his hair, half trimmed and half long. We smile benignly and admire his youthful gusto. 

As the story unfolds, the humanity of each character emerges. The bank robber, it turns out, isn’t a hardened criminal, but simply a desperate human. (No more clues—don’t wanna spoil.) When the older cop Jim, delivering pizza to the hostages, hears the robber’s story, he becomes an ally.

As do the other inadvertent heroes/hostages, who devise a clever way to protect their nemesis-turned-friend. Without wrecking the plot, let’s just say it’s a tale of redemption. By the end several key characters have huge burdens lifted off their shoulders. One banker who thought she was guilty of a man’s suicide early in the film because she denied him a loan, finds out otherwise. Anna Lena confesses to her husband that she really hates IKEA and his remodeling efforts. And Estella, lonely in a big apartment after the deaths of her husband and son, rediscovers a family to fill it. Even the bumbling cops, distraught by their daughter’s/sister’s drug addiction, reach a reconciliation with her and each other. Jack discovers there are more important human values than solving a crime—like preserving a family.  

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