Caliphate – Netflix – Limited Series

Such was the gripping nature of this Swedish dark drama which draws inspiration from real life events surrounding the ‘Bethnal Green Trio’, I actually watched the full 8 episode block in one sitting.

Split into two narratives, the story concurrently follows the life of disillusioned school aged best friends Sulle and Kerima who are struggling with their Muslim identity while growing up in secular Scandinavia and Pervin who is a young Swedish woman living under repressive circumstances in ISIS controlled Raqqa; she harbours regret and a desire to return to Europe.

As the schoolgirl’s home life unravels, they are exposed to undesirable and dangerous forces while their parents and friend struggle to exert influence in the face of increasingly overbearing, mysterious, charismatic and seemingly cool older school peer Ibbe.

In rebellious mood, the teens immaturely embark on what they believe to be an adventure of a lifetime by pursuing their supposed natural calling; all the while the spectre of Pervin’s reality reminds viewers of the perils ahead.

The genius of this show is how both sets of main characters exist in a world which the opposite desires the most and the narrative comes to a crescendo through a series of brilliantly acted, metaphorical crossroad scenes midway through. It will be one of the most harrowing, upsetting and eye-opening thrillers you will ever watch and I’d advise you choose subtitles and the Swedish audio to feel full immersion. Simply brilliant, I can’t speak highly enough of it. 

Viewed: March 2020 

Rating: 9.5/10

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