I hate this. I’ve got to admit my mother was right about something. Still, here goes:
Wallander, the BBC/Masterpiece Mystery series starring Kenneth Branagh, is excellent.
There, I did it. That was harrowing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother but she has some pretty bizarre tastes when it comes to her entertainment choices. This is the same woman who, despite the fact that she’s a well-read, highly-educated woman, raves about how “fun” it is to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Personally I think this is a sign of extremely early-onset geriatric senility. Like, 25 years early. It’s the only possible explanation for this behavior.
Despite her dubious track record when it comes to recommending movies and television shows, I decided to give Wallander a shot the other day based on the fact that it was both put out by the BBC and headlined the most talented Shakespearean actor of our generation – and the director of Thor, a film that has been referred to by my friend Bill as his personal “Passion of the Christ.”
Bill’s a bit of a weird dude.
Wallander, I’m very relieved to say, lived up to my mother’s recommendation. In fact it actually exceeded it, as when she was recommending it to me she made it sound a little too lighthearted than it actually is. Based on a series of books by Henning Mankell, it follows the adventures of Kurt Wallander, a police inspector living and working in Ystad, Sweden, and each episode is more akin to a full-length movie than what you’d traditionally encounter in a Western police procedural drama such as one of the alphabet shows; it’s less CSI: Sweden and more the existentialist crisis of a cop that wonders if he’s actually making a difference in a world that’s packed with violence, misery, and injustice, yet one with an unwavering moral code – a man who, in a desperate plea to let a victim go free, declares to someone on the verge of executing a rapist and murderer that “no one deserves to die.”
Branagh’s performance is absolutely superb as the eponymous reluctant hero is the stuff of legend. His capacity for portraying emotion is simply uncanny and is, at times, absolutely spellbinding; with Branagh supported by an absolute stellar cast of supporting characters (including a pre-Thor Tom Hiddleston as a young police protégé) the first season of Wallander is positively riveting. If you’re looking for some excellent feature-length drama featuring fantastic performances, smart writing, and breathtaking landscapes (all three of the first season’s hour and a half episodes were shot on location in Ystad), check it out – you won’t be sorry. Besides, Wallander’s dad is played by the MCP from Tron.
Just, uh, skip my mother’s other recommendation.