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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Fans of the Swedish version starring Krister Hendriksson are likely to
recognise this story immediately as it opens with the unforgettable
image of somebody setting fire to some wild swans and them taking off
with their wings on fire followed by the murder of an elderly woman who
witnesses the event
don't assume you've seen the story before though
as there are probably more differences than similarities. The night of
the murder Kurt is visited by Anna Westin, a disturbed friend of his
daughters. She disappears before he can find out what she wants though
so he calls his daughter and she comes down to find out what was going
on with her friend. It turns out that she has dropped out of university
and nobody has seen her for quite a while as she has 'found God'
in a mainstream church but amongst a group that have some fairly
extreme views. This sect is also linked to the man the police are
looking for in connection with the original murder. As the
investigation continues members of the sect start killing themselves to
atone for the sins they believe they have committed.
I really enjoyed the Swedish version of this story but was pleased that this was so different as it meant the story still felt fresh. It also means that future episodes, should more be commissioned, will be quite different too as in this version of the story Kurt's daughter Linda has not joined the police; she has got married and is expecting her first child. As one would expect of this series the episode is fairly down beat but there are one or two humorous moments; I laughed out loud when Linda when to have an ultrasound and Kurt said yes when the nurse asked if he was the father obviously she meant the baby's father not Linda's but it is the sort of funny mistake anybody could make. Once again Kenneth Branagh does a fine job as Kurt; creating a character who seems to genuinely care about people. As this short series draws to a close I do hope further series are made as they are better than most mysteries on television at the moment.
The Branagh "Before the Frost" is a welcome addition for Wallander
fans. The story as done here is more pointed and perhaps fleshed out
than the Swedish version while still being complex. The case is a
challenge for Kurt that he meets. You can see him pondering the pieces
and trying to fit them together.
Kurt's daughter Linda appears, and she is pregnant, which delights Kurt. They are reconciled. Kurt and she have a personal involvement in this case. It is Linda's close friend Anna who has gone missing and is associated with a religious cult. And Anna's mother is known to Kurt and may have had an affair with him years before.
The cinematography is excellent. The only negative, and this may be personal with me, is that there is too much sameness to the "music" that comes in almost every transitional scene in which Kurt is driving somewhere, or there is a mobile change of scenery; and this music is of the repetitive sort, where the same few notes are drummed out again and again. A little bit of this is suspenseful, but overdone it becomes a distraction and doesn't add.
The script seems to call for a good deal of hemming and hawing by Kurt. This gets a bit old too. Somehow in this episode it came through more than the previous two in this third series. The tone of the movie becomes sort of prosaic, what with the music and the soapiness of the relationships. It loses its edge. There's a fine line being walked here.
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