The complex knots of love, connection, and rivalry that bind sisters and brothers often provide the perfect plots for some of the best psychological thrillers, whether in literature or in film. An entire sub-genre focuses on the connection via trauma. These domestic suspense suggest that all is not well within the confinement of a household, and these sibling bonds are often tainted with complications.
What is the story about?
Netflix’s new series, a Danish show titled ‘Equinox,’ is a six-part exploration of the trauma-bond between two siblings, and the most intriguing part about it is that both sisters have equally nuanced characters and yet never meet over the course of the show. That’s not a spoiler. When we first meet Astrid, it’s on a day of celebration. She walks in on a heated argument between her mother and elder sister, Ida after which Ida gets on a truck with some mates and leaves, never to return again. Many years later, Astrid is a single mother hosting a late-night radio show where she discusses unknown fears and subliminal beliefs. A call from a fellow rider to her sister on that fateful bus in 1999, prompts Astrid to return to Copenhagen and reopen the can of worms that her sister’s disappearance left behind.
From an investigative noir perspective, ‘Equinox’ has the ambience down pat. The show is set in the deepest of winters in Denmark, making for as cold and murky as a setting for any investigation. But its greater feat is what it does with Astrid’s character. The solo scene between Astrid and Ida is the one at the beginning where just a millisecond is enough to establish the close bond the two sisters share. It is evident that Ida’s strange disappearance would have some effect on the younger sibling’s impressionable upbringing. Astrid, the adult, is introduced as a woman almost always on the edge even if she is frightfully calm. She used to get strange visions as a child, which are now back. Everyone around her is worried, and quite obviously, her metaphysical abilities seem to have larger psychological repercussions.
At the other end of the spectrum is Ida. Her story is told to us through smaller flashbacks from 1999. She is the doomed protagonist who is the most popular and loved in her peer group. She is on the brink of discovering love and sex with a young man with whom she shares genuine comfort and chemistry. And like any young adult of that age, she is constantly at loggerheads with her parents about her independence and freedom. Both these stories are equally intriguing.
The point at which Equinox starts to falter is ironically where its title comes from. Ida and Astrid are connected through a celestial bond that is beyond our fathomable imagination. But the power of storytelling is when we make that bond, as ludicrous as it seems, come together to bring out the truth. Here, that doesn’t quite come together. The more we delve into Astrid’s visions and how they relate to Ida’s disappearance, the more distant we become to the human drama for the two women - each of their relationships with their partners, their parents, and with their sense of self. The show is relatively short with just six episodes but the climax doesn’t seem too satisfying. We’ve invested far too much in the complexity of the characters to end up with such a tame conclusion. Most of the twists that the show tries to throw our way post-episode 3 are quite random and unnecessary, especially because they relate to an equally random climax.
Danica Curcic is convincing as a woman who has grown up with issues. The young actress who plays Astrid is constantly plagued by nightmares, and it isn’t a revelation that her anxiety and borderline personality disorder stems from those roots. But she shows enough bravery as someone in search of a dark truth. Karoline Hamm serves as a perfect counterfoil to her as the free-spirited but doomed Ida.
Music & Other Departments
The production design and look of the show are extremely apt for ambience creation. It has been shot and edited well, even if the screenplay is a slow burn. The score is minimal.
Equinox is a good way to jump into the Scandinavian content market for Netflix. It takes advantage of its setting and seems like a rooted story in spite of its larger cultural elements. There is ample character study and the actresses do all the heavy lifting.
If you’re expecting some intrigue from the plot, then that does happen in the beginning but fizzles out rather quickly. This is because it’s all leading up to a climax that doesn’t quite come together. The show also doesn’t do justice to the strange bond that enables Astrid to unlock the mystery behind her sister’s disappearance. The two stories don’t quite come together.
Did I enjoy it?
Sure. It had the potential to be better but it was quite interesting nevertheless.
Do I recommend it?
Yes. For fans of the genre, you can try it out. It’s available with English dubbing for easy viewing.