Ulrika Sandell In ‘A Nearly Normal Family,’ Explained: How Did Ulrika Get Stella Acquitted?


Directed by Per Hanefjord, A Nearly Normal Family is the story of a girl whose entire life changed after an unfortunate incident happened to her when she was merely 15 years of age. She never got the help that she needed, and it deteriorated her mental health to the point where she completely shut herself off from the world. She needed the support of her parents to come out of the darkness, but they themselves were dealing with a lot in their lives, and somewhere, they weren’t able to realize that their daughter had become distant. So, let’s find out where Stella’s parents went wrong and how she managed to get acquitted by the court of law. 

Spoiler Alert

Where did Ulrika go wrong in her parenting?

It couldn’t be denied that on the face of it, Ulrika Sandell was a good mother. She was a successful woman, and she did everything in her power to protect her daughter and make sure that she had a great future. But somehow, down the line, instead of helping her daughter cope with her traumas, her know-how about the entire legal system pushed her into an abyss from where she wasn’t able to come out of for years. In A Nearly Normal Family, we saw that Stella was sexually abused by a guy named Robin when she was just 15 years old. Ulrika was an accomplished lawyer by then, and when Adam, her husband, told her about the incident, she went to talk to her daughter. She wanted to know if there was a chance to put the perpetrator behind bars. She asked Stella if she explicitly told Robin to stop or if any gesture of hers made him realize with full clarity that she didn’t want to get intimate with him. Stella told her that she didn’t do anything so explicit, but she mumbled once that she didn’t want it to happen.

There was a disappointed look on Ulrika’s face, and she realized that they wouldn’t be able to win a case against Robin as it was their word against his. She was sure that he would take the defense that the act was consensual, and so Ulrika didn’t let Adam file a case. Now, we are not saying that Ulrika did something wrong here, but amidst all the calculations she was doing in her mind, she forgot that she had to cater to the mental health of her daughter. For years, it was imbibed in Stella’s subconscious that had she done something there, the perpetrator would have been behind bars. She blamed herself for what had happened to her, and it was the worst kind of torture she could have made herself go through. We believe that Ulrika should have filed a case just to let her daughter know that she was not at fault. That disappointed look on Ulrika’s face when she got to know that there was no evidence against Robin was imprinted in Stella’s mind forever, and slowly, it wrecked her from within, without her knowing about it.

It was not until Stella met the psychiatrist in prison that she realized that it was not her fault. Stella was in desperate need of therapy, and had she gotten it earlier, her mental health would have been in a better state. It was a cathartic moment for Stella when the therapist made her repeat the words that it was not her fault. The poor girl broke down, and she felt like someone had lifted a huge burden from her shoulders.

Why did Stella not get help from her parents?

Adam’s and Ulrika’s deteriorating marriage also had a huge role to play in the scheme of things; it was one of the reasons why Stella kept to herself and started feeling aloof from her own parents. There was a point in time in A Nearly Normal Family when Stella had made up her mind to seek help from her parents, but she stopped at the very last moment when Adam gave Ulrika a sarcastic look for drinking more than she should have. They had a little argument, after which Adam asked Stella about what she wanted to tell them, but she decided to deal with her problems herself. Stella said that her dad didn’t know her at all, and her mother was always disappointed in her. And she was right about it, as we saw Ulrika talking to Amina’s mother and telling her how her daughter had grown up to be unlike her. Ulrika didn’t like the fact that Stella never attended college and decided to work, and that created a rift between them. She never tried to understand why Stella had taken that decision and why she was so firm about it. Had she sat down and talked to her, she would have known that Stella was in need of help.

As parents Ulrika needed to be emotionally present for her kids. Adam and Ulrika knew that she had a traumatic experience back in the day, and they were educated enough to know that the wounds of such a tragedy do not heal so fast. But still, no one asked Stella if she was doing well, which bothered her. Adam was a worried parent, no doubt about it, but his paranoia didn’t help Stella that much, and she craved a person to talk to who wouldn’t judge her and not restrict her freedom.

How did Ulrika get Stella acquitted?

When Stella was taken into custody in A Nearly Normal Family by the law enforcement authorities, Ulrika decided that she would have to do something about the situation if she wanted to save her daughter. There was a footprint found near the crime scene, and in addition to that, there was Stella’s pepper spray and the testimony of the neighbor, which proved that she was the one who had killed Christopher Olsen. Nothing was going in their favor, and that’s when Ulrika decided to secretly go to the office of the prosecutor and find some evidence that could help her daughter’s case. Luckily, she found the list of people’s DNA at the crime scene, and she was shocked to find out that Amina’s name was also on the list. She tried asking Amina what she knew, but at first, the girl was too scared to tell her anything.

At the end of A Nearly Normal Family, Amina confessed to what had happened on that fateful day. She disclosed to Ulrika that Chris had drugged and abused her. Stella learned about it, so she rushed to save her friend. Though Stella had stabbed Chris and killed him, Ulrika knew that the prosecutor wouldn’t be able to prove that fact. The defense only had to prove that what the prosecution was claiming couldn’t be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The presence of two people at the crime scene meant that it couldn’t be conclusively said that it was Stella who had killed Chris. So, in the end, Ulrika met Mikael Bloomberg and told him to ask Amina to come to the witness stand and let the prosecutors question her. It was decided that Amina was going to tell the truth in court, and that’s how the prosecution’s arguments became baseless. Ulrika’s master plan paid off, and both girls were acquitted by the court of law.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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