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Hans Åke Gabrielsson
A lifeboat floats ashore at the coast of Skåne. Inside are two dead men who who've been murdered. Policeman Kurt Wallander is assigned to the case. The men are identified with the help of the police in Latvia. One of their officers travel to Sweden to to help but when he returns to his home country he is mysteriously murdered. Kurt flies to Riga to find out why and is drawn into complex conspiracy. Written by
Mattias Pettersson <email@example.com>
Fascinating Historical Document That Contains Some Plot Implausibilities
Watching THE DOGS OF RIGA makes us realize just how much has changed in the twenty-five years since the Baltic republics achieved independence from the Soviet Union.
Set in Riga in 1991, director Pelle Berglund creates a world trying to establish itself after decades of colonization, in which the Soviet influence is still strong, and Russian remains the principal language of communication. The KGB still holds sway, and the local police force is riven with corruption. Kurt Wallander (Rolf Lassgård) comes from Sweden to solve a case, and is immediately plunged into a world where the distinctions between right and wrong simply do not exist. He is shown entering a series of gray, faceless-looking buildings full of dark corridors and unexpected nooks and crannies, where people can readily spy on him. The snow- covered boulevards are certainly wide, but the cars are either old- fashioned or uniform (the Lada is still the most popular make available). The only form of entertainment available in the Soviet- style hotel is a self-styled "erotic show," where a few listless- looking topless women kick their legs in the air to the sound of taped music. When Wallander enters, he is immediately conscious of being watched.
In this kind of environment, it's hardly surprising that THE DOGS OF RIGA comes across as a Cold War-style spy thriller, in which no one trusts one another, and Wallander is left totally confused as to how to solve the case of three murders, including a Latvian major (Benny Poulsen) who had previously come to Sweden to collaborate with the local police force. Eventually Wallander teams up with the major's widow (Charlotte Sieling), and together they manage to work out what happened, although they are put in grave danger during a climactic shootout scene on the roof of one of the gray-looking buildings.
The story is not without its implausibilities: Wallander's ability to recover from his various wounds - a bloody leg, a bullet in the torso - is quasi-bionic; and it appears that he has no problem in being able to communicate in Swedish, even though the Latvians have their own language. We might also wonder why the local detectives cannot manage to solve the case, rather than having to rely on a Swedish colleague to do the work for them.
Nonetheless THE DOGS OF RIGA is worth watching, as it gives us an insight into the central character's complicated private life, which seems so much less successful than his professional life.
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