Show of the Week: Forgiven

Forgiven (Source: Red Arrow Studios International)

Laura Manninen’s best-selling, semi-autobiographical novel Kaikki Anteeksi comes to the screen in this darkly tragic four-part Finnish drama.

Drawing on the author’s own experiences, the story tackles tough issues surrounding love, domestic violence, shame and the culture of silence that keeps such stories behind closed doors.

“Part of what makes the novel so powerful is that it is based on a true story – and it is this realism and authenticity that made it ripe for a television adaptation,” explains Riku Riihilahti, head of sales at Yellow Film & TV.

“What sets it apart from other series about domestic violence, is the fact that it follows through the full arc of the relationship. We often enter this story only once the police are at the door; here we see how an abusive relationship starts and, more crucially, why it is so hard to break free from one. That’s why the series and Manninen’s novel produce such a fresh, gripping take on the subject matter.”

Written and directed by Antti Heikki Pesonen, Forgiven follows thirty-something Vilma (Iida-Maria Heinonen) as she meets and falls in love with Mikko (Joonas Saartamo), a seemingly charming, polite and sensitive man. Initially, Vilma downplays the seeds of doubt in her mind and, despite never having dreamed of children, the couple soon start a family.

But little by little Mikko’s true personality is revealed and the idyll collapses. As Mikko turns increasingly violent, love, shame and fear, and the need to solve the problems, keep Vilma in an abusive relationship until the situation escalates to the point where she feels her life is in danger.

“Vilma’s journey is filled with realistic tension, the drama is built in a way that keeps the audience hooked and thirsty to know more, while at the same time being respectful of its subject matter,” shares Riihilahti.

“Vilma is a very strong and intelligent person who can handle herself, and her journey shows that anyone can find themselves in this dire situation. Ultimately, Vilma discovers that she doesn’t have to take care of everything by herself. By realizing this she is also able to help others in who find themselves in a similar situation. This final, positive message is the moral center of the book and series.”

Riihilahti adds that the series is more interested in exploring what it is that keeps an abusive relationship going, and the complex emotions involved, but does not shy away from the horrific nature of violence in an intimate setting.

Rodrigo Herrera Ibarguengoytia, VP of scripted acquisitions & co-productions at Red Arrow Studios International, suggests that the “powerful, performance-driven” nature of the series will make it a hit with audiences around the world “despite its harrowing subject matter,” which is explored “with a lightness of touch that manages to convey hope.”

Producer: Yellow Film & TV
Distributor: Red Arrow Studios International
Broadcaster: Elisa Viihde (Finland)
Logline: Dramatic 4 x 60-minute adaptation of Laura Manninen’s novel about a seemingly idyllic relationship that descends into domestic violence

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