Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Varg Veum at the movies: Buried Dogs
The lastest Varg Veum film to run on U.S. tv (on the unconventional MhZ Network) made me curious about the novel from which it was taken, since the credits at the beginning state that it is "adapted freely" from the original by Gunnar Staalesen. None of the Veum movies shown so far corresponds with any of the books translated from Norwegian into English, though, so I will be left wondering about the relationships between the books and the films. Buried Dogs (I'm not sure what the title refers to) deals with Norwegian politics, and it seems to be the same nasty mess as politics elsewhere. A candidate for the head of a right-wing party comes to Veum saying that someone is threatening her and that the police won't do anything. Veum, seemingly because of the anti-immigrant stance of her party, refuses the case. But when there is a botched assassination attempt on her rival for head of the party (his wife is shot by mistake), Veum gets interested and works with her to unravel the original threat and the possible new threat. Her party is meanwhile playing hardball, trying to squeeze her out by manipulating sympathy for the candidate whose wife is in a coma after the shooting. The final resolution is more of a twist and counter-twist than is usual for the Veum stories (I think my wife figured it out, from the hints left hanging at the end--I'll supply her theory for anyone who wants to hear it), and there's a bit more back and forth between Veum and the police (sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile). A viewer has to pay a bit more attention to this one, as most of the plot is carried forward in the lengthy conversations among characters, somewhat difficult to follow in the subtitles unless one is paying close attention. Buried Dogs would perhaps be better seen in a movie theater, with fewer distractions and bigger subtitles, than on the TV in the living room--but beggars can't be choosers, and the broadcast of this series is a welcome opportunity for fans of international crime fiction and film. P.S.--the actor playing Varg, Trond Espen Seim, is scruffier even than in the earlier films, his hair limp, badly cut, long, and dirty. His scruffiness doesn't really fit my image of Veum from the books, though otherwise he is excellent in the role (tough but sympathetic). Does anyone else have an image of Veum different from what you can see in the film poster above?