Review: Wallander (Episode 1 – Sidetracked – BBC1)

I am not, as a rule, a fan of crime dramas – but this was good.

It is a very dark Scandinavian thriller and felt – probably because it was set in Sweden – quite unlike the multitude of British equivalents. It’s based on the crime thriller by Swedish author Henning Mankell.

The storyline was dark, opening with detective Kurt Wallander (played by Kenneth Branagh) approaching a young and terrified woman in a rape field. She pours petrol over herself and sets herself on fire.

The main plot involves a series of murders – the victims being ‘scalped’. Very dark stuff as a web of prostitution, child abuse and government and police corruption are revealed.

The best bit was the cinematography itself – it had that vivid 1970s Fujifilm feel to it. Very intense colour rendition which really did add something – the blues and greens especially. Also, it’s set in southern Sweden (though it’s in English) and all the signs and visual text are in Swedish. That alone made it feel very different to a standard UK crime thriller.

Sweden just feels… quite different to the UK. Having been there myself for the first time earlier this year (to a conference) – it does having something about it I can’t quite put my finger on. I’d like to go back, for sure. There is a starkness about it (a bit like Scotland) that does pull you in.

Most of all this reminded me of the movie Se7en which was very dark and haunting – and which I always found gripping.

I’ll certainly be watching again next week. Decent 1.5 hour chunk of TV for a Saturday evening (there are three in total).

A good review of it on Times Online. More about Mankell, the author, also on Times.

Overview of Wallander on the BBC

TV, movie, book, theatre, art reviews

3 thoughts on “Review: Wallander (Episode 1 – Sidetracked – BBC1)

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  1. So glad you too enjoyed this. I loved it. The framing of the shots verged on the contrived but the overall effect was stunning – Ang Lee visits the north.

    I’m a fan of Henning Mankell and was surprised at how well Branagh inhabited the part – primarily because he was not quite how I had imagined Wallender.

    I’m jealous that you’ve visited – it made me want to get to that cool looking seaside.

    I’ll be back next week too.

  2. Colleen – greetings. Yeh, was surprisingly good, especially as I’m not known to be a fan of the genre. I did enjoy Sweden when I was there. It was all too brief – less than 24 hours! But I got a taste for it. It’s quite cheap to fly to from the UK so I’d definitely go again. I’ve always wanted to see Scandinavia and that one small trip is all I’ve done so far.

    I’ll also be watching again on Sunday evening.

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