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Kenneth Branagh makes a great Kurt Wallander on these three seriously dark mystery films....
BBC / 270 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: September 25, 2012
These moody Scandinavians, man. Thirty years ago, anybody Swedish was considered in American media eyes to be death-obsessed sex fiends, and for one reason or another, thanks to the firestorm success of exports like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, there's a newly-reinvigorated inner darkness that seems to pervade iconic media from the region.
Kurt Wallander (played in this British edition by the ever-reliable Kenneth Branagh) fits into this paradigm perfectly. On Wallander 3, our fair detective does a good job of getting his job done, of course, but there's a glacial, muted terror within him as he fingers his bad guys: the angels and demons of these mysteries play second fiddle to the guy's inner demons. Yet while this is bad news for poor Kurt, it's fodder for viewers - as Branagh agonizes through these three feature-length episodes, the results are often striking in their emotional resonance.
An Event in Autumn, The Dogs of Riga, and Before the Frost are definitely by-the-books crime drama programs, but they deliver to their audiences exactly what they expect. There is great acting here - both in small parts and in more recurring roles - and the overall look and feel of the show is rewardingly rich. These mysteries may not be the kinds of things you return to again and again, but I'll give this to dark Swedish dramatic characters of late: they sure have a tendency to entertain.