Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wallander - "One Step Behind"

Let's not even mention how long it's been since I've watched an episode of Wallander....

"One Step Behind" is the third and last episode of the first series. I didn't even know there was a second series until about a week ago, which made me want to finish this. In this episode, two women and a man, inexplicably wearing 18th century garb, are found murdered. Somehow this is connected to Wallander's co-worker and friend Svedburg. When Svedburg is murdered, Wallander realizes that he is consistently one step behind both Svedburg's investigation of the triple-homicide and one step behind a ruthless killer.

Just like the first two episodes, this is a bleak and depressing mystery. It's also not nearly as sensationalist as the above synopsis would have you believe. Meditative and contemplative are better terms to use than action-packed.

This episode is interested in secrecy and social outcasts, what makes them outcasts and the secrets they keep. Svedburg, murdered in seemingly cold blood, kept secrets even from the man he considered his best friend, Wallander.

But Wallander isn't really up for investigation. He's diagnosed with type two diabetes from poor diet and no exercise. In his investigation, he comes across a young girl who attempts suicide by the same method as Wallander's very own daughter attempted years ago.

What makes Wallander so interesting as a character is his tendency to take on the crimes as personal affronts. He becomes so emotionally invested in the witnesses and victims that it is wasting him away, sucking his life away. He questions life itself and wonders about the morality of humanity.

It's all very big questions and Kenneth Branagh definitely has the acting chops to pull it off. There's a scene in which a girl accuses Wallander of being a "crap dad", and for a moment, Wallander contemplates it, and it's some of the most engaging acting I've ever seen. It's an absolutely brilliant scene.

However, this isn't a perfect film. Certainly the pace could have been improved. Once Svedburg is found murdered, the movie slows down considerably, examining Wallander's relationship to the girl who attempted suicide. It's in service of the story, but frankly, I found it boring.

Other than the pace, "One Step Behind" is a brilliant episode of Wallander, showcasing the incredible cinematography, scenery and acting skills of all involved. This is excellent television, and I look forward to watching the next episode.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I enjoyed the first Wallander series, including this one. The second series with Branagh will air in the US this autumn. Inexplicably, the second series is drawn from earlier books including the first, Faceless Killers, which I just read. I've not read any of the others and thought it might be fun to do for a change. But I couldn't get Branagh out of my head ...