Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Wallander Sidetracked / Firewall / One Step Behind|
Actor: Kenneth Branagh
Genres: Television, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
Kenneth Branagh plays Swedish detective Kurt Wallander in three new crime dramas based on the best-selling books by Henning Mankell, an international publishing phenomenon with over 25 million copies sold worldwide. Sidetr... more »
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Something Rotten in Sweden...
D. S. Thurlow | Alaska | 05/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Kurt Wallander novels, authored by Henning Mankell, are quite popular in Europe but rather less well known in the US. "Wallander-Series I" brings to television and DVD the dramatization of three of the novels. Wallander, portrayed by veteran and gifted Irish actor Kenneth Branagh, is a detective on the police force of the gritty seaside town of Ystad in Sweden. He is a borderline physical and psychological burnout case, who has lost his sense of detachment from his cases and takes everything far too personally. At the same time, he is a brillant sleuth with an ability to make intuitive connections between seemingly unrelated cases. Assisted by his staff and supported by a faithful daughter, he manfully plugs away at some rather unorthodox cases.
"Sidetracked" opens with a brilliantly staged scene in which Wallander fails to prevent a young woman from self-immolation in a sunlit field of flowers. He is also beset by a series of murders in the local art business, and by the health issues of his estranged father. Only Wallander can see the connections, which lead to a deadly sex ring and a surprising killer.
"Firewall" opens with the seemingly senseless murder of a taxi driver by two young women. As other bodies start to pile up, Wallander picks at a strange statement by one of the two young women, who escapes from police custody and then is herself horribly murdered. Wallander's persistance leads him to an unorthodox terrorist plot, and a betrayal by a friend.
"One Step Behind" involves Wallander in the deaths of several young persons who were connected with a midsummer's eve celebration. Additional deaths lead Wallander into a wider case in which the police seem constantly one step behind the killer or killers.
This series was filmed in Sweden, which makes for some beautiful location shooting. The sets are contrasted with some grim social rot in Swedish society, as exemplified by the gritty portrayal of Ystad society. Wallander's crew, all British actors, provide low-key support to Branagh's haggard and unshaven lead detective. His personal suffering over each case and over a personal life seemingly in shambles, imparts a gray tone to the stories that may be unsettling to some viewers. However, the stories are intricately plotted and thrillingly concluded; Branagh carries the day in a fascinating portrayal. This series is very highly recommended to fans of PBS Masterpiece Mystery looking for something different in a police procedural."
A Great New PBS/BBC Mystery Series!!!
Gina C. Moss | Greensboro, NC USA | 05/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen this DVD about 30 times! After reading all the Henning Mankell Wallander mysteries, I ordered it from Amazon UK and switched my computer to Region 2. Boy was it worth it. Fantastic actors and crew. The high quality of the production is unmatched. Branagh won several awards for this series already, both for acting and producing. They are set to create three more this summer, again based on the magnificent books by Henning Mankell. There are two DVDs in the box. One has show 1 and 2 on it. The other DVD has Show 3 and then a ton of wonderfully produced specials. These include a fantastic and long chat between Kenneth Branagh and Henning Mankell. Mankell is delighted with the series and you will be too!!"
A Fine Addition to PBS Masterpiece Mystery !
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 05/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After The Inspecor Lynley series, this has already become my favorite installment of PBS's Masterpiece Mystery. Having heard about but not read the internationally successful mystery series from Henning Mankell, I come at this clean, so to speak, with no preconceptions of how Wallander is supposed to be, or how the mysteries unfold. While its origins may be Swedish, it very much has a British feel to the series featuring Kenneth Branagh, and a mood all its own. In short, it is quite fantastic.
Like many of the better installments on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery, there is an intelligence here, and a deliberate choice of substance over flash. It makes for mystery as much about the characters as the plot. The tone is somber, and Branagh gives a subtle performance of a detective throwing himself in his work, because he's numb from events in his private life. Wallander appears to almost sleepwalk through his life when we first get acquainted with him. He feels responsible for a young girl's horrific death in the opening moments of Sidetracked, which sets the tone for the series. The image of her setting herself on fire in a field haunts him and drives him to discover why.
Meanwhile, the director slowly shows Wallander's private life. He lives with his grown daughter, who basically takes care of him when he comes home because he's a mess. Emotionally frozen from events in his real life, picking up the phone at home is a big deal for him, because it is someone who knows him, rather than about work. He is an excellent detective, yet nearly paralyzed outside the lines which form that perimeter. Each installment is balanced by a riveting mystery and layers of Wallander's private life are slowly pealed away. In Firewall, for instance, his daughter Linda (Jeany Spark) attempts to get him to "move on" after his marriage has failed by enrolling him in an internet dating site. At the same time, the murder of a taxi driver by two young girls and ominous words about it not even mattering lead him to a plot that will create utter chaos around the globe if he can't put a stop to it. How these two stories intersect is poignant and devastating for Wallander and the viewer.
Wallander's relationships with his daughter, his artistic father who may have deeper problems than he realized and many other things round out a portrait of a man who is his work because it's all he has to hang on to. Branagh is magnificent as he is rumpled in his interior rather than his exterior, and manages to convey this. The mysteries are deeply involving and intelligent, and a cast which includes Sarah Smart, Sadie Shimmin, Tom Hiddleston, and Tom Beard are well played. But there is no doubt this is Branagh's show, as this is about Wallander. The direction and look of the show fit with the character of Wallander so that he seems to fit into this world. Or is it that this is how his world is? It may not grab those looking for flash, but those who find intelligence and character development in their mysteries preferable will eat this up. A fine installment of PBS's Masterpiece Mystery."
Kenneth Branagh as Henning Mankell's Scruffy, Single-Minded
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 06/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Wallander", Series 1 adapts three of Henning Mankell's internationally popular detective novels into English-language films. Inspector Kurt Wallander, a scruffy middle-aged police detective in the seaside town of Ystad, Sweden, is frustrated by family pressures while he obsessively pursues the solution to his cases. Kenneth Branagh plays the unselfconscious Wallander with perhaps a little more ruggedness than earlier Swedish adaptations. But he is still a serious, introverted man who can hardly be distracted from his job. The series was filmed on location in Ystad, by coincidence at the same time a new Swedish adaptation was being filmed. The flatness and bigness of the countryside accentuate Wallander's introversion and place the action against a sweeping tableau.
"Sidetracked" begins as a young woman burns herself to death in front of Wallander. He barely has time to ponder that tragedy when former Minister of Justice, now political pundit, Gustave Wetterstedt is found murdered near his home, his skull split with an axe and scalped. Then a wealthy art dealer of dubious reputation, Arnie Carmen, suffers the same fate. A drunken journalist who had attempted to do an exposé on Wetterstedt suggests a connection between the men: a prostitution ring years ago that was covered up by a corrupt police officer. But Wallander can't move fast enough to prevent more murders. This episode is an effective introduction to Wallander and his family, but the murders are self-consciously bizarre and barely credible. The commentary on Swedish politics is interesting but touched upon only briefly. 3 stars.
"Firewall" finds a taxi driver stabbed to death by a young woman, Sonja Hokberg, who seems uninterested in the consequences, claiming "none of this matters". Just as suspicions about her motive nag Wallander, a series of odd technical glitches allow Sonja to escape custody and a body to disappear from the morgue. It begins to look like Sonja's escape is somehow connected to a computer programmer named Tynnes Falk who dropped dead after using an ATM in the town square. More bodies turn up, as Wallander and his detectives race to figure out what Falk was up to with the aid of hacker Robert Modin. The connections between events and the motives of the villains don't strain credibility as much as the first episode. "Firewall" builds suspense and alludes to the possibility of economic terrorism, an intriguing subject. 4 stars.
"One Step Behind" opens with the murders of 3 young picnickers on Midsummer's Eve. One of their mothers tries to convince the police that her daughter is really missing, not gallivanting around Europe on holiday. No one is quite convinced until fellow police detective Svedberg (Tom Beard) is found murdered in his apartment, photographs of the missing teenagers and of a mysterious woman named "Louise" concealed in a location that Wallander will find them. Svedberg's life is a mystery as much as his death. What did he know about the 3 missing people? Why was he interviewing their parents and friends in the weeks before his death? The killer's motives in this case seem entirely implausible and Svedberg's actions are not adequately explained. But its strength is the genuine puzzle that it builds around Svedberg. 4 stars."