30 Degrees in February (30 grader i februari), 2012
Based on stories by Anders Weidemann.
Starring Maria Lundquist, Hanna Ardehn, Kjell Bergqvist, Thomas Chaanhing, Rebecca Hemse and Torkel Petersson.
A disparate group of Swedes move to Thailand in search of a new life.
Problems swept under the carpet have a tendency of biting back. When the carpet in question is a sun-soaked Thai beach, this can be pretty stark. The difficulty in trying to run away from one’s troubles in order to find a better life is the central premise of this Swedish drama.
Released on the Nordic Noir sub-label of Arrow Films, the show follows a diverse group of troubled Swedes who all choose to up sticks and relocate to Thailand. Looking to escape illness, money worries and loneliness, the ex-pats all attempt to leave their problems in Sweden. However, predictably enough, their various traumas don’t disappear in the sun.
A fine cast of polished performers bring an emotional depth and clarity to the show, and while there aren’t too many surprises in store, the beauty of the Thai landscape provides a gorgeous palate for the poignant stories explored over the ten episodes.
Viewers familiar with recent Scandinavian TV exports will recognise the rich stream of dark humour on offer throughout the series, and while it’s not exactly laugh a minute there is a steady wry philosophical take to life’s perils and anxieties.
The story of the lonely ex-mechanic Glenn whose naive quests for love lead to him being conned and cajoled is one of the strongest stories of the series. There are a variety of other plots including the single-mum recovering from a stroke who settles down with her two daughters on the island of Happiness.
The ironically named location left me feeling a bit underwhelmed, and it is an indication of some of the obviousness of the programme. It tries a bit too hard at times to be self-referential as it plays its hand with a nod and a wink. Still, there are plenty of effective scenes throughout and even though you may feel at times like shouting at the characters to get a grip and think themselves lucky, the story-lines are well-developed and manage to hold one’s attention.
Out now on DVD, Season 2 is due to air in Sweden next year.
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer