Missed the first two episodes of Wallander? Watch them online at this PBS link starting May 11, as well as behind the scenes videos and interviews with the actors.
Kenneth Branagh’s performance as Wallander in PBS’s new mystery series of the same name is memorable. His baggy eyes are rimmed with red from lack of sleep, his middle aged body is lumpy and careworn, and he is as depressed as the families of the victims he investigates. From the opening scenes I immediately understood that this production of the popular Swedish detective series, which has a spare and existential feel, will offer no light frothy treatment of the detective genre. Set in southern Sweden and the Swedish port city of Ystad (pronounced EE-stad), the movie is beautifully filmed. Having never visited Sweden, it was a delight to view the film’s stark and gorgeous settings.
PBS will offer three 90-minute installments of Wallander on Masterpiece Mystery during May. The first episode is called Sidetracked and opens with the gruesome suicide of a 15-year-old girl. Wallander is on the trail of a serial killer who, after he murders his male victims, scalps them. The story, while beautifully filmed and acted, was a little too easy for me to solve. I knew almost immediately that there was a connection between the young suicide and middle-aged victims, and I guessed the killer at almost the moment I saw the person. Mind you, I have never read Henning Mankell’s books, so I didn’t know the plot ahead of time, but when one is exposed to superb acting and excellent production values (shot last summer, the series cost £7.5m), one can forgive the heavy-handed clues that were dropped like lead-footed bombs throughout the plot.
The author observed about Wallander:
My ambition from the beginning was to show a man who was always changing, never fixed,” Mankell says. “That is one of the secrets to his success. He has a working-class background, and to become a police officer, he had to choose his place in society. At that time, you had to be conservative. But he’s not completely sure about what’s right and wrong.
From Mankell’s description, Kenneth Branagh IS Wallander. You can watch the first episode online on PBS’s website for a limited period starting May 11. Look for the next two episodes to air Sundays on your local PBS station at 9 pm.
1. Sidetracked: A 15-year-old girl commits suicide by immolating herself. Click on the link to learn more about episode one.
2. Firewall: A teenage girl stabs a taxi driver and seemingly doesn’t care about the consequences. Wallander races against the clock to solve a mystery that is reminiscent of a ’24’ episode. In this episode Wallander shows his softer, tender side as his daughter convinces him to start dating again. Unfortunately, he fails to balance his personal life with his work life, and his new relationship almost ends before it starts. Online episodes of Firewall will be available on Monday, May 18th.
- Inspector Wallander.org: Timeline of the novels