Anna Friel Delivers Riveting Performances in Two Netflix Series

If you haven’t yet discovered British actress Anna Friel, now is the time. You can stream two Netflix series where she delivers compelling performances. Born in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England, Friel has been acting since she was 13, primarily in productions on the other side of the pond. But more recently, she has amassed a long list of credits on TV shows and films in the U.S.

Here are the two series to place on your Netflix watch list:

Marcella

This British detective series has the impressive credential of being written, directed, and produced by the Swedish screenwriter, Hans Rosenfeldt, creator of the Scandinavian drama, The Bridge. In Marcella, Friel plays the title character, a former London detective who, in the first season, returns to her squad to work an open case, the Grove Park murders, when it appears that the serial killer has returned. Marcella is not in the best shape to head up an intense investigation. Her husband, Jason (Nicholas Pinnock), has been having an affair and tells Marcella he wants, not only a divorce,  but custody of their two children. With her once happy marriage disintegrating, Marcella goes into a tailspin. Not only is she exhausted from working 24/7, but she begins to experience blackouts, a fact she hides from Jason. When Jason’s mistress is found murdered, Marcella’s memory is so fractured, she believes she may actually have committed the crime. 

The second season continues Marcella’s descent into something bordering on madness. Her blackouts increase in intensity and frequency, and her anger, aimed mostly at her husband, threatens to harm any claim she may have on her children. Jason now has another lover and they are planning to get married. The final insult – Marcella’s two children prefer to live with their father and his fiancé. This time around, Marcella is chasing someone who is torturing and killing children. She begins seeing a hypnotherapist to discover the repressed memories that are triggering her blackouts. What she learns is devastating.

Marcella is a tortured soul and Friel gives such a raw performance that we feel her pain, whether physical (she truly throws herself into the action), emotional (particularly when she’s faced with the loss of her children), and psychological (her blackouts place her on the edge of insanity). The camera loves her face and her expressions are priceless. With two season, eight episodes each, you have several weekends of viewing to enjoy. And Marcella has been renewed for another season, so much to look forward to.

American Odyssey

This series was first seen on NBC in 2015. Unfortunately, the program was not renewed, so Netflix is streaming the first on only season of this gritty drama.

Friel plays Odelle Ballard, a member of the U.S. Army stationed in Mali working with a joint special operations task force. One evening Odelle goes off to do her business, well away the all-male group. While she’s gone, mercenaries slaughter the entire task force, leaving her as the only survivor. She soon learns that a major U.S. company, Societel (SOC), has been funding Islamic terrorists hoping to keep the war going. To cover up SOC’s action, the American soldiers has to be killed. Odelle is in possession of an encrypted flash drive that reveals SOC’s involvement. But when the military learns she’s still alive, she becomes a target. Aided by Alsam (Omar Ghazaoui), a young Malian who becomes her companion and friend, she works to keep steps ahead of a hired assassin, hoping to get the flash drive into the right hands. Stateside, two Americans – Peter Decker (Peter Facinelli), a former U.S. Attorney, and Harrison Walters (Jake Robinson), are working on their end to expose SOC’s misdeeds. Both suffer setbacks: Decker’s wife leaves him and Harrison’s father is killed. But those setbacks are placed aside for the greater good – exposing an American company that was responsible for killing soldiers and military officials who are complicit.

Peter Facinelli, Anna Friel, and Jack Robinson, at the NBCUniversal TCA Press Tour at the Huntington Langham Hotel on December 16, 2015 in Pasadena, CA. (Bigstock)

With 13 episodes, American Odyssey delivers punch after punch – literally and figuratively. Once again, Friel is riveting. And she’s surrounded with a very talented cast. In addition to Facinelli and Robinson, Jay O. Sanders is perfectly sleazy as the head of SOC, while Treat Williams as Col. Stephen Glen, portrays a high-ranking officer with no soul. Special call out to Sadie Sink who plays Odelle’s daughter, Suzanne, who never loses hope that her mother is alive. 

The series ends on a perfect note to imply a second season. Too bad NBC passed, but at least we can watch this excellent season one on Netflix.

Marcella photos courtesy of Netflix.

About Charlene Giannetti (305 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines including the New York Times. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her new book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "1Life After You," focusing on the opioid crisis that will be filmed in 2019. Charlene divides her time between homes in Manhattan and Alexandria, Virginia.