Blinded on Sundance Now is a gripping Swedish thriller about a young financial reporter desperate for her first major scoop. When she receives an anonymous tip about malfeasance at a well-regarded bank, she knows this is her chance. The problem is that she happens to be having a long-term affair with that bank’s married CEO. Is she willing to throw a bomb into her life and the life of her lover for a chance at career advancement? (cont’d after ad)
Careful what you wish for
Bea Farkas (Julia Ragnarsson) is a young financial reporter at Dagbladet, a large Swedish newspaper. She is fighting to get a story with some meat, versus covering quarterly corporate earnings releases. Her break comes when she receives an anonymous tip that one of Sweden’s most respected banks, ST Banken, is misleading the public about their earnings. The bank’s CEO is Peder Rooth (Matias Varela), a likable, working-class-done-good asset to the stodgy bank. When Bea receives the tip, she is both thrilled and dismayed, as she is in love with Peder, who is married, and now has to choose between him and her career.
Peder is a sympathetic character. He’s a great dad, a charming CEO, and he clearly loves Bea. But he’s got a morals issue. Obviously, he’s cheating on his wife, and his philosophy when trouble surfaces is “never confess”. On the other hand, behind the scenes, he is trying to get the bank to slowly come clean about the losses it has sustained, but keeps getting stonewalled by Otto (Claes Månsson), the chairman who refuses to let the 100-year-old institution that he inherited falter while under his stewardship. In his working-class heart, Peder knows the right thing to do, but his ambition won’t let him. Meanwhile, Bea has issues of her own. As a financial reporter, it’s a conflict of interest to be involved with the CEO of a bank. The fact that she doesn’t disclose it to her boss is even worse. She also uses questionable tactics, and puts an old friend at risk, to get the information she needs for her exposé. While our heroes both sound like terrible people on paper, it’s a testament to the actors that we end up rooting for them anyway.
Blinded, although technically a drama, is structured like a thriller, with rising stakes and a ticking clock. As Bea works to get evidence before the bank covers it up, Peder is forced to use every tactic he can to stop her. Meanwhile, the employees, who have taken stock options in the bank, turn riotous when they get wind of the scandal. The show takes its time to develop the employee characters, which gives Bea’s decision to blow apart the bank more gravitas. Henrik (Oskar Thunberg) is the veteran trader who can’t shake his cocaine nor gambling habits, and keeps doubling the losses of the bank. Adam ( Björn Elgerd) is Bea’s naive friend who is a new employee at ST Bank. And Carl (Edvin Endre )is Otto’s son, who although he is highly functioning, has cerebral palsy, so will never inherit the bank.
Blinded Based on True Events
Blinded is based on the book Fartblinda by Carolina Neurath, which is based on a real-life banking scandal that rocked Sweden about 10 years ago. Greedy financial giants getting their comeuppance is a timely subject, but it’s the (fictionalized) relationship between Bea and Peder that brings the show to another level. They are two outsiders, neither feeling like they fit in where they are, yet both willing to eschew ethics to get ahead. Their relationship felt like an oasis for both of them, and Bea in particular struggles with the emotional consequences of her ambition. Blinded is careful to show that every character is compromised in some way, and I enjoyed that complexity.
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