Review: Wallander (Episode 3 – One Step Behind – BBC1)

A very absorbing final episode of Wallander, the dark Swedish crime thriller brought to a UK tv audience by the BBC. This episode seemed almost more grim than the other two so far screened as it seemed to have the most murders.

The storyline was deeply complex and mostly a mystery, right up until the end. Dead teenagers, a homosexual police detective who also gets killed, more murders, vivid scenes of the Swedish outback, Wallander himself looking like a zombie from so little sleep and illness. Surreal country-scapes, the dead bodies of children looking like broken dolls and to top it off – a psychopathic transvestite.

No point in me dissecting the plot line in depth suffice to say it’s a real shame that only three of these were made. To me it has far more appeal than any of the other police dramas we have on TV. Masses of originality, luscious cinematography, excessively dark and twisted story lines (as I’ve said before, it’s like a TV version of the film Seven).

I have never been a huge Branagh fan but I thought he was excellent in this.

Let’s hope they make some more. I may even read the books now too.

Overview of Wallander on the BBC

Review: Wallander (Episode 2 – Firewall – BBC1)

I think this can probably assume the mantle of the best current crime thriller on TV, and easily one of the most stylised dramas to hit the BBC in quite some time.

It’s exceptionally dark. Really deeply and quite depressingly brooding. The storyline is complex and very tangled and in last night’s episode there was a powerful feeling of increasing claustrophobia and suspense as it progressed over 1.5 hours.

I really hope they do more of these rather than just the initial three. I was never into police dramas before this but it’s so different to standard British fare – mainly because of the cinematography and also that it’s set in Sweden – that I would definitely watch it regularly.

Below is last week’s trailer, to give you an idea.

Overview of Wallander on the BBC

Review: Wallander (Episode 1 – Sidetracked – BBC1)

I am not, as a rule, a fan of crime dramas – but this was good.

It is a very dark Scandinavian thriller and felt – probably because it was set in Sweden – quite unlike the multitude of British equivalents. It’s based on the crime thriller by Swedish author Henning Mankell.

The storyline was dark, opening with detective Kurt Wallander (played by Kenneth Branagh) approaching a young and terrified woman in a rape field. She pours petrol over herself and sets herself on fire.

The main plot involves a series of murders – the victims being ‘scalped’. Very dark stuff as a web of prostitution, child abuse and government and police corruption are revealed.

The best bit was the cinematography itself – it had that vivid 1970s Fujifilm feel to it. Very intense colour rendition which really did add something – the blues and greens especially. Also, it’s set in southern Sweden (though it’s in English) and all the signs and visual text are in Swedish. That alone made it feel very different to a standard UK crime thriller.

Sweden just feels… quite different to the UK. Having been there myself for the first time earlier this year (to a conference) – it does having something about it I can’t quite put my finger on. I’d like to go back, for sure. There is a starkness about it (a bit like Scotland) that does pull you in.

Most of all this reminded me of the movie Se7en which was very dark and haunting – and which I always found gripping.

I’ll certainly be watching again next week. Decent 1.5 hour chunk of TV for a Saturday evening (there are three in total).

A good review of it on Times Online. More about Mankell, the author, also on Times.

Overview of Wallander on the BBC

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