|Index||4 reviews in total|
"Wallander: The Fifth Woman" is perhaps the most depressing among the
depressing Wallender episodes I've seen, but it is also the most
profound and the most beautifully acted. Wallender (Kenneth Branagh),
while coping with problems at home involving his father (David Warner),
investigates the gruesome murders of three men who seem unconnected.
They were all definitely killed by the same person and died slow,
painful deaths. Can Wallender and his cronies find a connection before
there's another murder? Kenneth Branagh will break your heart, as will
David Warner. As usual, the supporting cast is top-notch.
This series isn't for everyone. It's gritty and the atmosphere tends to be heavy. But the episodes are beautifully produced, and you couldn't ask for a better characterization than Branagh's. I haven't seen anyone else play Wallender; from the fronts of some DVD/VHS boxes, though, it looks as if, with his boyish face, he comes off as younger. I also am guessing that he gives the character more layers.
"The Fifth Woman" is the best I've seen thus far of "Wallender."
Well, this one may strike you as another dismal, dreary, downbeat
episode, ridden with graphic carnage and that irritating, screeching
theme song, but Kenneth Branagh and Saskia Reeves rise above the
turmoil, to deliver the finest "Wallander" performances of the season,
while David Warner also leaves his lasting impression.
This opens with a murder, a perpetrator's stalking an elderly gentleman in the woods near Ystad Municipality, Skåne County, Sweden, shoving him onto a deck of sharp boards, leaving him to suffer. A second murder victim, is forced to hike barefoot into the woods, and strangled while tied to the trunk of a tree. A third victim is overtaken in the woods with chloroform, roped into an open body bag, and shoved from a pier into a lake to drown. A suspected fourth intended victim may be shoved onto the railroad tracks as a moving train approaches unless the Ystad Municipality Polis team arrives to thwart a fourth murder.
When Polis Chief Lisa Holgersson (Sadie Shimmin) insists Detective Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) to break from investigating this latest string of murders during his father's Povel Wallander (David Warner) illness, Kurt insists upon working despite the toll demanded upon his stamina. Fellow officers Anne-Britt Hoglund (Sarah Smart), Magnus Martinsson (Tom Hiddleston) and Nyberg (Richard McCabe) remain loyal to Kurt, continuing to alert him each time which someone discovers a body.
Some intended victims include Holger Eriksson (Howard Swinson), automobile salesman who dedicates poetry to Krista; Gosta Runfeldt (Stefan Karlsson), florist planning an airplane trip; Eugen Blomberg (Fredrik Dolk), entrepreneur of international business company; Gote Tandvall (Dudley Sutton), elderly gentlemen having dealings with others; and Max Lunnqvist (Patrik Karlson), younger gentleman working at railroad station.
Meanwhile Kurt visits Povel, who asks Nurse Gertrude (Polly Hemingway) to stay, to listen to his conversation. Povel asks Kurt to take him home to his studio because Povel doesn't want to die in the nursing home, with all meaning ending there. Kurt agrees to return Povel home, where Nurse Gertrude accompanies Povel, who tells Kurt to avoid remaining alone because no one handles life and death alone.
Linda Wallander (Jeany Spark) arrives by railroad with Inga Wallander (Phyllis Logan), her mother, who surprises Kurt with her visit to the church memorial service. Afterward, Inga asks Kurt why he continues to wear his wedding band because they cannot turn back. When Kurt asks Linda if she cares for anything from her grandfather's estate, she answers that he already gave her his poetry last summer.
Gertrude volunteers to see Inga and Linda to the depot, while Kurt continues the multi-homicide investigation. At Polis Station, driver Sven Tyren (John-Paul Hurley) reports Eriksson missing because he hasn't responded to deliveries. Sven accompanies Kurt, Magnus and Nyberg to the residence, where they discover first body.
Anne-Britt asks to meet Kurt at the florist, Manager Vanja Andersson (Saskia Reeves) shows them the back room, to discover blood stains, to report Florist Gosta Runfeldt missing, after not appearing for a flight. Vanja accompanies Anne-Britt and Kurt to Polis Station, to which she is often re-invited when evidence and additional bodies surface.
Magnus calls Kurt by morning to inform him that a jogger has found another body, tortured and strapped to a tree, a victim of strangulation. Polis Chief Lisa Holgersson offers Kurt a break to mourn, but he continues to investigate.
Daniel Gylling (William Scott-Masson), a Maitre d'hotel, introduces Kurt to Bo Runfeldt (Edward Hughes), son of Gosta, and meets with Kurt, saying that his sister and he had lost mother to suicide, after Gosta was abusive, and that Gosta and Vanja shared an intimate past. Vanja soon tells Kurt that Gosta was sometimes abusive, and she stayed on in his employ to support her young son, Peter Andersson (Albert Maris).
When Anne-Britt discovers a suitcase in a field, then taken to forensics, the Department again summons Vanja to identify the contents. Vanja reports that these articles of clothing definitely belong to Gosta, but they're too neatly folded to indicate that he has packed the suitcase. Plus they have a scent of perfume, indicating that a woman may have been involved.
At a local Maternity ward, an intruder interrupts a birthing by 20-year-old Katerina Taxall (Alice Mary), who is believed to have been involved with one of the victims, while Midwife Yiva Brink (Sanchia McCormack) pursues the intruder, who assaults her.
Soon, a jogger is abducted, chloroformed, bound into an open bag, and shoved from a pier and drowned. Nyberg, Magnus and Kurt arrive the next day to investigate the scene of the murder. Kurt questions Adela Blomberg (Beatie Edney), who has reported her husband missing that day, and she also reports Eugen's chasing after many women, but that he threatened to cut her funds if she were to leave him.
After Kurt holds a press conference to petition residents to identify a woman with cropped dark hair, Vanja reports to Kurt that she has participated in a former support group of abused women, having five regulars plus occasional guests. Yvonne (Claire Cox), the sister of Krista, has belonged to the group and had short dark hair, but Vanja recalls none of the members' surnames. Kurt notices on Vanja's wall a landscape painting by Povel, which begins to create a sense of understanding between Kurt and Vanja, before Peter Andersson, her son, enters the room.
Gote Tandvall (Dudley Sutton) is then questioned as someone who remembers the sisters Harverman (Krista and Yvonne) through his dealings. Elinor Grunden (Rebecca Thorn) is questioned about her husband's disappearance and conduct. Max Lunnqvist (Patrik Karlson) is running behind schedule for his shift at the railroad station, at which Polis scurry to attempt to prevent another murder and stage a compelling showdown. The cast is rounded out by Joanna Bacon as Neighbour, and Karen Gledhill as Nurse.
You can draw your own conclusions about the ending. Let's face it. Wallander seems to love too much, even those who are dangerous and psychotic. He values human life on the one hand, but has trouble giving that to those closest to him. In this episode, he deals with he death of his father, a complex artist who thinks his son is wasting his life and embracing unhappiness. The story here is about a series of maligned women and the murders of their oppressors. The murders are strikingly cruel and hard to explain. Wallander believes that there is a connection among the different deaths, and it is finding that connection that is at the root of his investigation. Kenneth Branagh continues to portray the long suffering police detective. He is faced with pain every step of the way. He is dogged in his efforts to discover those who have done terrible things, but realizes that sometimes there is causality in their actions. I believe that he can identify with their suffering because he experiences so much of his own. I read some of the Menkel books and had no idea Wallander was so depressed. I am planning on watching the Swedish version of these stories to see how he is portrayed. I think this particular story is the most interesting and well-rounded of the Branagh canon.
When I eventually got to watching the first season of the UK Wallander
I was surprised by how uninspired I was by it. I had heard that it was
deliberately downbeat, but I was not prepared for that seeming to be
its whole focus. Murders and crimes occurred and were solved, but all
efforts appeared to be focused on producing a sense of misery that did
feel quite superficial. The second season does a lot better though.
The murders are much more engaging and it is they that lead each episode. Wallander is within this, and it works better because his actions or reactions have a root in the narrative, instead of feeling that the narrative is background to what is going to get produced anyway. I also liked that the family matters equally seem natural but not pushed too much to the fore (such as with the conclusion of the previous season for instance). Much more satisfying as a production, while still producing that darker and pained character at its core. Branagh works well with this, because the material helps him. He is well supported by the majority of the cast although as many recognizable faces as there are, he is the focal point. Production is of a high standard still, and it does have a good look but happily less often it comes over like it is a shoot for a moody album cover.
A stronger return. Better in the core material and the root of what it does.
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