Varg Veum-The Norwegian series of twelve films-a review. Minor spoilers only. Available on DVD.

Varg Veum

Based on the novels by Gunar Stalasen.  As mentioned in my original preview/comments Varg Veum is a Private Detective/Investigator who lives in Bergen, Norway.

SF films-same as Wallander.

12 films in all.
(nb. see footnotes for full list in English and Norwegian)

Film Number 1-Bitre Blomster  /Bitter Flowers

Varg Veum is kind of hot. We are introduced to him as he is sleeping, all shaggy haired, in his car. He wakes up just in time to photograph a man exiting a long, low grey stone clad building.

Varg Veum has a long lensed zoom digital camera of course.  He also has a classic Private Investigator’s office.  Into which enters the equally classic: Dame in Trouble, blonde.  Except this being Norway she happens to be a laconic and straight faced important politician.

The politician wants to hire Varg Veum to search for her missing daughter.  The politician has already seen Varg Veum at the scene of the crime or rather her house from where her daughter has mysteriously disappeared.

Varg Veum is questioned by the equally laconic Chief Policeman in charge of the investigation as to a certain file:
“relevant to the case of the missing welfare child”.  The file is missing too.

Varg Veum denies that he took the file with him when he left the Police Force.  We find out from another Policeman at the scene that Varg Veum was dismissed from the Police force for:
“beating up a drug dealer”.

Varg gets the call from the Police to visit the scene of the missing child.  So he puts on a new black T-shirt and a cool long black coat and is instantly transformed into a stylish floppy-haired stubbled P.I/ Private Investigator.

Varg Veum worked in and was in “Child Welfare.
 Policeman/ Cop:
“The file on Vestili is missing”.
We know instantly this means Varg did nick the file.

Isaksea/ Cop:
“The only thing they understand, eye to an eye..”
Varg Veum:
“It’s eye for an eye..”

***

And then my DVD payer gave up the ghost again. I know i shouldn’t have screwed it all back together again so soon.  My actions were precipitous.

Later after getting a new DVD player.

I have seen Varg Veum 1-3 now:
1) Bitter Flowers
2) Sleeping beauty
3) Yours until death
now I am on the number four: Fallen Angels/ Fallen Engle.

In Film four we find out exactly what Varg Veum keeps in his briefcase.

***

Final Review of Varg Veum

So as I have said in some notes on new series somewhere I really enjoyed watching Varg Veum.  All twelve of them.  Quite gutted I was when they were done.  Even though it wasn’t a series, the first six films are a chronological series and the next six are.

I am not 100% sure I watched them in the right order as at one point things seemed to go back in time.  Unless that was a really arty flashback.

Still, Varg Veum was most excellent I feel. Firs t of all I did want to see a series set in Norway or should I say more correctly a Norwegian series.  Well both.  Since seeing Mammon which I rated most highly mainly.  I did want to see more of Norway too.  Such series are rare. Well to me.

I forgot to look at such things as dates on the films however I think I spotted a 2012 at one point.  it is irrelevant really since Varg Veum is timeless in style.  It almost could be any time period.  Except for some muted clothes and unobtrusive mobiles.

There is little to no computer tech wizardry on Varg Veum come to think of it.  Good.  Gadgets and electronic magic is all very well but it can get  bit tiresome gazing at a computer screen.  At which half to all of the cast or one be-frazzled to calm genius type is gazing at too.  Yep.  it’s a computer screen.  We know.  We can see.

After a while it just gets boring really.  But I digress.

Yes, Varg Veum is a  large as in tall long legged loping superhero.  hero included.  In spite of having no gun to speak of that I remember like in all Scandinavian series/ Wallander.
(Though of course Varg Veum knows how to use one if needed-just like James Bond)

Varg has heroic escapades in which he performs Herculean (almost) tasks of physicality, watching, driving, deducting and several sorts of spy-type espionage.  And that’s just for starters.

When I think about it, Varg Veum does not make a big deal about any of this.  In fact like all true superheroes, Detectives hugely obsessed and Bruce Willis in every movie: Varg carries on after the baddie with every type of horrific injury it seems.  Never mind capture and the rest.  I shall not reveal all.

Varg performs all of these heroic deeds with admirable aplomb.  With a Steadfast wit and guile and some really clever thinking. Outside of the box.  Like way outside..

Varg has a stoic air and a harsh, sarcastic and blunt humour. However Hamre’, as Varg’s nemesis Police Chief in the early series has that blunt humour in spades.  Hamre’ and Varg Veum’s back and forth banter is amusing indeed.  If anything their jokes to each other become ruder and more relaxed as their friendship develops.

A special mention must naturally go to the character of Hamre’ as he progresses through the series.  Me I really enjoyed the Norwegian dialogue and portrayal of the blunt, slightly sarcastic way of speaking which is actually quite fond in feeling whilst humourous as well.
(I enjoyed this sparse style of speaking in Mammon too)

Hamre’ really grew on me as a character. He has the art of staying silent when most people would speak.  Even in the most terrible situation.  When soothing words and platitudes are expected, Hamre’ says nothing instead.  He exercises laconic wit and steadfast humour.

Once, and this was indeed a sad situation, Hamre’ ruffles the top of Varg Veum’s head, his shaggy hair.

There are humorous interludes with Hamre’ and Varg Veum in amongst all the suffering and distinctly dark cases that they eventually share.  Without ever actually admitting their unofficial partnership.

There is a plethora of hangings in one film.  Cat lovers might want to look away in another.

At one point Varg Veum heroically throws his camera down a mountain when going to the aid of a damsel in distress. However Varg and his camera are never parted for long.

My favourite Herculean feat of Varg Veum is when he launches himself off a cliff to check the trajectory of a body.

Now Varg Veum is a tall guy.  As he starts pacing up and down the grassy knoll of the cliff he gets a wee glint in his eye.  No, surely he’s not going to?  But he does.

Having become rather fond of Varg Veum as a character I was nervously contemplating this escapade and it’s prospect.  Whilst calculating Varg’s taller height.  Than the victim.

No, Varg, no!  But there he goes..
With a madcap unflappable smile.  Such is Varg Veum’s style.

****

Footnotes.

It was quite a while until I realised that the clear liquid from the minimalist bottle that Varg Veum pours himself drinks from in his extra cool office when officially perplexed or nonplussed: was not in fact water but vodka.

**

Varg Veum, or rather the actor who plays him, appears as Veronika’s Gallerist in the new series The Legacy on Sky Arts 1 and Sky Arts 1 Hd.   See-Note to my readers of a new series.

**

Somewhere I have a list of all the names of the films in the Varg Veum Series in English and Norwegian.. But for now they can be found on Wikipedia.
OK here they are:

First Series
  • Bitre Blomster (Bitter Flowers) (September 2007)
  • Tornerose (Sleeping Beauty) (January 2008)
  • Din Til Døden (Yours Until Death) (March 2008)
  • Falne Engler (Fallen Angels) (April 2008)
  • Kvinnen i Kjøleskapet (The Woman In The Fridge) (September 2008)
  • Begravde Hunder (Buried Dogs) (October 2008)
Second Series
  • Skriften på Veggen (The Writing on the Wall) (November 2010)
  • Svarte Får (Black Sheep) (January 2011)
  • Dødens drabanter (Consorts of Death) (April 2011)
  • I mørket er alle ulver grå (At Night All Wolves Are Grey) (November 2011)
  • De døde har det godt (The Dead Have It Easy) (January 2012)
  • Kalde hjerter (Cold Hearts) (March 2012)

**

For Scandi-noir fans I recently watched and really enjoyed the films: Headhunters and False Trail which I found on Netflix.  Next I am trying Pusher.  Headhunters is by Jo Nesbo, False Trail has Rolf Linquist in it from the Wallander series and Pusher has Mads Mikelson and Martin from The Bridge in it.

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