Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wallander

Just checking in here with a review of Wallander, a superb BBC series so far consisting of six 90-minute episodes over two seasons.   The character is a constable in Sweden, hero of twelve novels written in Swedish by Henning Mankel (nine of which have been translated into English), and a slew of movies and television dramas in Sweden.

I haven't yet seen any of Wallander other than in the BBC series, and those six episodes, each of which has the feel of a movie, are just wonderful.   We get a really original, refreshing (though not upbeat) detective series, with a pace and feel I've never seen before on American or British television.

Among the highlights -
  • Kurt Wallander almost always feels directly, personally responsible for the murders he investigates with his team, and he's sometimes right
  • the cinematography of the Swedish countryside is breathtaking, and in a class by itself as far as what we usually see in even the best visual presentations on television
  • the Swedish police are a lot less trigger-happy than we Americans, but they're not afraid to use lethal force when necessary, and what we get is a very good take on an alternate mode of policing
  • the Swedish public, at least in the Wallander series, are a lot more disrespectful of the police than the average citizen in the US and (from what I can tell from British series) in the UK, which also makes for an unusual dynamic.
Kenneth Branagh plays Wallander memorably, and the acting is excellent all around.  If you'd like a detective you've truly never met before, you're in for a treat with Wallander (available on DVD from Netflix).


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