Writing, acting, realisation, everything deserves a 10 but there is something more to Wallander. There is something unexplicably touching in this character, maybe the fact that he cannot reach happiness but refuses to give up trying completely. He is just plainly human and touches our humanity.
Not having had the chance to see Kenneth Branagh on stage, I had never quite understood while he gathered such recognition and neither "Much ado about nothing" nor "Thor" had managed to convinced me. But I undestand now and I am convinced. He is absolutely amazing in this role.
In the fine British tradition of Van Der Valk and Bergerac comes another crime series set in a foreign land populated by english speakers and utilising the scenery as another character. This is not to disparage it at all, but it's not a rarity.
What makes this show compelling is the very Swedishness of it, making it similar but somehow just a little off-kilter for the rest of the world - even if it isn't entirely what Sweden is like. The scenery locations and the sets are beautiful, evocative and lovingly shot with camerawork that makes every image something to hang on the wall.
But looks aren't everything. The storylines are convoluted, interesting, full of red herrings and clues (sometimes quite subtly placed for a detective series) and enjoyable, with the interplay between the characters and the main - Wallander - very natural.
Wallander himself, played believably by Branagh, cares too much for the people he's trying to help and hates himself when he fails, and is quite hopeless in his private life. No-one seems to understand his situation, not his family nor his workmates, and it's rare for him to crack a smile. Sure, he's a bit of a depressing character, but something about his wounded, caring detective makes you want to be on his side. Especially as people seem to have a habit of dying in front of him. It shatters him but he pulls together and carries on - this is not the American-style guns blazing, life is cheap type of show.
The combination then of good cinematography, moody music, believable characters, strong acting and sharp, intelligent writing make this a series that's well worth watching for people who like crime stories and those who like human tales. Just don't expect to come out of it feeling happy.
I gave this show a 10, only because I feel that Wallander is the only show deserving of it. I know it's a really broad, confident statement, but I'm a fan of all kinds of shows and will try anything once. Kenneth Branagh is fantastic as usual, his ability to become entirely immersed in the character he's playing and make you actually believe he's what he's playing is a gift. He's also extremely rugged and good looking, which helps me as well. You actually do believe he's a separated, struggling detective that is losing touch with reality. Sounds familiar, but this isn't your average American crime drama.
I know little about Swedish culture, except shopping at Ikea, so I can't say that they've done an accurate job portraying Swedish culture. But they make a great attempt and it fools me, so it goes against the grain in that aspect. Not many crime dramas try to be foreign.
The dialogue is well written, and well delivered. Everything is subtle and the camera editing and colours are so strong that they usually outshine the actor's dialogue. If I watch another crime drama I just might puke, but I promise you, this is no ordinary crime drama. Give it a try and I promise you won't be let down.
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