Monday, August 24, 2009

Wallander: The Tricksters

The Tricksters (Swedish title, Den Svaga Punkten, which means something like the weak point or the weak spot) is the 6th of the new Wallander series produced by Swedish TV, with stories supplied by Henning Mankell but scripts written by others. For some reason, the MhZ Network, which is running the series on U.S. TV, seems to have run 5 of them, not having yet shown one called The Darkness, which evidently features Wallander's daughter Linda and her partner/boyfriend Stefan more than Wallander himself. That plot is relevant to my impression of The Tricksters (the English title really doesn't make much sense), which to me has far too much of Wallander and far too little of Linda (there's a bit more of Stefan than of Linda). The new Swedish Wallander is played by Krister Henriksson, without the sloppiness or manic-depression of the two others who have played the role (Kenneth Branagh and Rolf Lassgård, the best of the three, to me--he more convingly captures the loner, the opera fan, the conflicted relationship with Linda, and overall the complexity of the character). In The Tricksters, he's chasing after clues that keep piling up after a horse trainer is found dead in his horse barn, by two young girls who have been learning riding there. The plot moves from possible accident to murder to a Nazi neighbor to compulsive gambling to S&M, blackmail, and more. A bit too much plot in fact, too much of the police Saabs and Volvos running back and forth from the crime scene to Ystad police headquarters to the various homes of those involved. On the plus side, this film, like some of the Mankell novels, shows the horse country around Ystad and a bit more of the town than some of the other films. And Kurt (almost) gets an age-appropriate girlfriend, who provides a more emotional coda to the movie than the actual plot manages to do. Still, it's enjoyable enough TV-crime-show fare, and I look forward to more in this series (and in the Varg Veum series) from MhZ (which should be more widely available on U.S. cable and satellite systems than it apparently is). MhZ also returns in September with the 5th season of the famous La Piovra (Octopus) series, delineating the rise of the Mafia as an ever-present force in Italian society and politics.

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