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?).


Maxine Clarke said...

These sound great - I wonder if we will ever get them in the UK? I have not heard of this author - and the books sound like my cup of tea. I'll have to check out if they are translated/available.

Glenn Harper said...

Maxine: Thanks for the comment. There's a new Staalesen translation coming out in about a month from Arcadia, which also published one earlier book in English. There are also 2 older translations published by others that are o.o.p. but occasionally available second hand through various on-line sellers. They're all good--some more oriented toward Veum's background in child welfare, some more toward his hard-boiled detective role. I'm looking forward to the new one (I've already pre-ordered it at Book Depository).

Maxine Clarke said...

Thanks, Glenn. I've also asked on FriendFeed, see: for some responses/opinions about these books.
So in the UK I can apparently get nos 2, 5, 11 and 14 in this series! I'm going to try one as they sound like my cup of tea (unlike serial killer suspense, of which I have had enough I have decided after reading too many identical-seeming examples, differing only in the specifics of the gory details).

By the way, can't immediately recall if you have reviewed Johan Theorin's The Darkest Room (tr Marlaine Delargy, UK pub Transworld), but while I have got the comments window open, I'll just mention that it is the best book I've read for ages (well, a few months) - excellent.