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MiNDFOOD reviews Normal People

Image source: TVNZ

MiNDFOOD reviews Normal People

Staff writer Kathryn reviews our latest TV obsession, Normal People.

MiNDFOOD reviews Normal People

I read Sally Rooney’s Normal People quite recently so understandably was tentative about a TV adaptation. For a story that’s all about the things left unsaid, how would this translate to TV?

Luckily, BBC Three’s Normal People has done this beautifully. Of course, with Sally Rooney on board as a writer, it makes sense. The author’s pen is evident throughout the script, lovingly adapted with such detail and care.

If you don’t know the premise, the story follows popular, yet insecure Connell Waldron and strong-willed outsider Marianne Sheridan, tracking their relationship from high school in the small Irish town of Carricklea, to college in big-city Dublin.

Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal are perfectly cast in the roles of Marianne and Connell. Their chemistry is undoubtedly evident, full of tender looks and long silent pauses so tense you could cut a knife through.

Readers of the book will know there’s not a lot of dialogue going on in the story. Most of the narrative is built up through the characters’ internal thoughts. Astonishingly, Edgar-Jones and Mescal capture this so well, managing to say so much through body language, expressions and carefully chosen words.

One thing that really struck me was the way Mescal plays Connell with such honest vulnerability. To his high school friends Connell is the popular jock but it’s soon very clear that he’s much more complex than the label given to him. Mescal portrays Connell’s insecurities, anxieties and mental health struggles without any ego or pretence. It’s refreshing to see a show that explores male vulnerability and I think we need more stories like this.

It’s not a lighthearted teen drama by any means. Normal People deals with some serious topics around depression and abuse, perfectly balanced with moments of joy and real tenderness. A lot of it is about misunderstandings in a relationship. About what happens when things are left unsaid. It’s honest, relatable and heartbreaking.

The richness of Connell and Marianne’s relationship is paired with stunning filming locations, taking you from the weather-worn Irish coast, to thriving Dublin city, to picturesque Italy and snow-covered Sweden. This, matched with an electro-pop soundtrack, makes the whole show completely absorbing, pulling you into every corner of Marianne and Connell’s world.

It’s easy to get swept up in their love story (I binged the 12 episodes in under a week). In hindsight, I recommend avoiding the temptation of rushing through the episodes. Normal People is the kind of show you want to savour. Take it slow.

You can watch Normal People on TVNZ or Stan. 

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