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Shortly after police discovers the murder of three friends, police inspector Wallander finds his friend and colleague Svedberg dead. At first believing that Svedberg killed himself, ... See full summary »
In the 1840s, Cranford is ruled by the ladies. They adore good gossip; and romance and change is in the air, as the unwelcome grasp of the Industrial Revolution rapidly approaches their beloved rural market-town.
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Excellent and beautiful TV cop drama set in Sweden
Watching two episodes of "Wallander" makes me think of Isabelle Huppert's line in Hal Hartley's great "Amateur": "everything I write comes out sad. Why do you think that is?" Kenneth Brannagh's shambling, weary detective Kurt Wallander is as far from TV's 'Columbo' as it's possible to get, despite certain physical similarities.
In a way that I seem to recognise as uniquely Nordic, Wallander goes about his daily business solving murders with a residual sadness on him and his world, and everything in the show from the art-house photography and pared-down sets, to the score, to his life and to each episode's stories themselves helps create a consistent portrait, so that by the time I settled down for episode two, Wallander's appearance was an automatic trigger to a certain state of mind.
Each classy episode takes its time, draws visual comparisons, sets Wallander up in his world, makes you know him better. I'm loving it : it's on a par with the excellent French TV thriller "Engrenages" that previously appeared on BBC4, and anything ever so slightly formulaic about the story lines in each episode is offset by the serious and committed acting, the well-drawn characterisation, the consistent visual tone. I'm so glad they avoided the Meryl Streep world of accents and wholesale removal of the drama to the UK (or USA). These are Swedish characters in a Swedish town who write in Swedish it's just that we're hearing them in English. And this technique allows them to cast truly excellent English supporting actors without any fear of uneven accents or geographic transitions that don't work so well. (No English forest ever looks quite like a Scandinavian one. And the British don't so much do sadness and mournful humour, as bleakness and black humour they're quite different.)
I saw Kenneth Brannagh as an electrifying 'Hamlet' on stage in the late 80s, and this feels something like being reacquainted with an old ghost. He's no longer young, and he's not beautiful, but he makes masterful use of his eyes, his voice, the very weariness life has given him to create a memorable man, not just a cartoon portrait. Highly recommended.
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