Monday, August 17, 2009
Varg Veum 2 (movie based on Gunnar Staalesen character)
Last night the MHZ Network in the U.S. ran the second of the Varg Veum movies based on Gunnar Staalesen's Norwegian crime novels. The title is Sleeping Beauty (originally titled Tornerose, which I think is in fact the Norwegian name for Sleeping Beauty--who was called Briar Rose in in the English translation of the Grimm tale, before Disney got to her). This one develops Veum's character a bit further (by exposing him to corpses, middle-class families, and gangsters), plus the girlfriend he established a bit of a relationship with at the end of the first film reappears (but it seems, from the plot, as if she won't be a regular in the series). The relationship between Veum and a senior cop is also developed a bit further, extending their antipathy to new levels. Sleeping Beauty's plot is a bit over-determined, including murder, incest, pedophilia, drugs, runaways, child prostitution, sex among neighbors, homosexuality (considered by a teenager's father to be worse than his drug abuse), insider trading, organized crime, police stakeouts, attempted matricide, and a pair of broken marriages (and I may have forgotten some plotlines by now)--but the 90-minute film doesn't seem overstuffed and the story moves along at a fast but not frenetic pace. And Bergen looks more pleasant (with its bay, hills, old quarter, charming center city apartments, and spectacular upper-class houses), though almost as cold, as in the first Veum film. The series is a bit more action oriented than the various incarnations of the Wallander series, but at the same time, Veum is a more complex character than Wallander: Veum has had a career change from social work to private detective, both with an emphasis on aiding children, and he's alternately hard-boiled and vulnerable. He does share with Wallander a certain lack of fashion (or even grooming) sense, though: Veum is taller and thinner than the 3 Wallanders I've seen, but his stubbly beard is more trendy--though his long, perpetually dirty-looking hair brings down his "look" a bit. I'm not sure how many more of the Veum films MHZ is running, but it looks like there are 6 that were produced for Norwegian TV: Here's hoping we get them all, and more in the future (maybe we'll see what summer in Bergen is like?).