Sigh. Why did i do it. I knew it was wrong. Yet i couldn’t stop. Even as i felt my precious time slipping away from me, never to be regained. I knew better. I knew Kenneth Branagh was rubbish as Wallander.
My Sunday night chill out. Sipping Guinness and blackcurrant from a can. Dutifully dinnered. Salad and salmon in sauce from a cook in oven bag, baked potato with a great dollop of butter and a bag of ready salted crisps. Seriously, crisps really do go with every meal. Except a fry up i guess. Or boiled eggs. I like to get an assorted bag and then just take pot luck. How very exciting this makes life i am sure you will agree.
Why am i, i suddenly ask myself, relating the details of my dinner to you all? Good question. Sorry. Probably not that interesting at all. Though rather sumptuous to me. Topped off with a lovely fizzy water with pressed orange juice with bits. My punchline, i know it’s a long time coming. is this. My dinner was obviously more interesting in this case than Wallander.
Dear oh dear oh dear. How does he do it? With all respect to Kenneth Branagh, he being a very good actor, Shakespearean and all, however he just doesn’t get Wallander.
The beginning credits are hugely stylish. Bright acid orange and yellow with countersplit scenes like powerpoint backgrounds in technicolour. 60’s style, likewise the font, brilliant stuff.
Followed by a suitably ludicrous lyrics usually found accompanying Scandinavian or officially deep and meaningful BBC dramas. Luther being a wonderful case in point. Luther possibly possessing the craziest lyrics in it’s opening and closing songs ever. The lyrics and song of British Wallander come a near close. They too are ludicrous.
There are fabulous moody scenes of desolate beaches and piers and the usual utilitarian state office buildings signified as Swedish by the low level lighting in fabulous shades and polished wood. There are delightful interior shots of Wallander’s house, of which we only see a few rooms and seem to resemble a fisherman’s cottage. A very expensively assembled fisherman’s cottage but one all the same. Fabulous lamps of course, made of big glass bulbs at the base.
Wallander just spoils it all by mooning glomily into view repeatedly. This sounds most odd and cruel a thing to say about the main character, the hero. But he does. He is the opposite of scene stealing. He is scene deflating.
Kennneth almost gets it, you almost wish him there. Then you realise that you are just pinning all your hopes of the real Wallander onto him. Your hope that the real Wallander will appear. Kenneth is almost haggard. He tries to be weary but he isn’t world weary like the real Wallander. He’s nowhere near it. Even when he’s drinking and staring moodily out to the sea you just don’t believe it. When Kenneth gets up in the morning and reaches for the tube of Alka-seltzer and plops one into his glass you don’t believe he is hungover.
He flies at amazing rapidity of speed back and forth from Sweden to Latvia. Latvia is completely gorgeous and has interiors like Parisian French and exteriors like Soviet royalty.
Wallander meets the requisite beautiful blond woman who is in trouble. Whom he slowly or more like rapidly is soon mooning over like he has fallen in love. Mostly this consists of him just staring silently at her a lot.
Together Wallander and the beautiful woman run around a bit away from the bad guys, she in amazing high heels. They escape on a tram and within minutes are ensconced in another fabulous room in a hotel. All the furniture is outstanding. Wallander and the woman also spend a lot of time running through cobbled streets and a market. It’s a bit like a Latvian travelogue.
That’s about it, except for the mad and somewhat inexplicable denouement. By which time I’d forgotten which bad or good Latvian or ex-KGB Policemen were the bad guys and why they wanted some files.
However Meyer from Forbrydelsen is in it. Wallander’s facial expression in the whole thing reminded me of a man mildly bemused, bordering on boredom. Perhaps wondering if he lost a lozenge, a Fisherman’s Friend perhaps, down the back of the sofa.
I was so disappointed in not seeing Wallander that i shouted at the screen a few times:
“What have you done with Wallander? How dare you have his dog!”
Plus there is an odd effect from watching Wallander in spoken English. We are so used to hearing and delighting in the wonderful sonorous sounds of Swedish which somehow makes everything so much more glamorous and interesting all at once. Hearing Wallander and everyone else in it forced to speak English has the overall effect of sounding dubbed. There is even a comedic touch of :”I’ve come to fix your pipes, Madam” about it.
Added to which the lugubrious soft muttering Kenneth, of very few and terribly short sentences, gives British Wallander a slightly surreal air. It’s like he became lost on holiday, after having his drink mildly spiked with L.S.D and is wondering around minorly tripping and we are seeing everything he sees. He really looks like he needs a good sit down in a comfy chair and a nice cuppa tea.