Rating : ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Categorisation: Detective drama
Plot: This is the third detective series that has been adapted from Henning Mankell’s successful books about the Swedish Police Inspector, Kurt Wallander. The first, a Swedish series starring Krister Henriksson was produced in 2005, quickly followed by the British series starring Kenneth Branagh in 2008. In this 2020 series we glimpse into the early life of Wallander as he makes his way in the Malmö police department. He lives in a social housing block. His neighbours, mostly immigrants, don’t know he is a policeman – if they had known, they‘d be unlikely to trust him. Then one night a murder takes place at the complex, a white teenage victim, inflaming deep tensions within the community. Wallander becomes involved, and we watch him in action as he and his colleagues investigates the crime.
Cast: The casting is curious. The young Wallander is played rather dourly by Adam Pålsson. Being a Swedish actor he speaks English with a Swedish accent. So far so good. But then we find that the other main characters all speak English with a variety of British accents – we have cockney, geordie, Scottish accented people…playing Swedish people in the unmistakably Scandinavian city of Malmö. It’s all rather post-modern and I wasn’t sure what we were supposed to make of it.
Filming and setting: Stylish and well done, there are some good views of Malmö, it’s seedy areas and it’s more swept-up environs.
Personal Comments: The young Wallander series taps into what appears to be a growing curiosity about the early lives of well known TV detectives. The Young Montalbano, produced in 2012 was the Italian prequel to Inspector Montalbano. In 2015 the British prequel to Prime Suspect (Prime Suspect 1973) gave us a look into the early life of Inspector Jane Tennison. And, of course, the hugely successful Endeavour (2012), was the prequel to the long-running British series Inspector Morse. In all the earlier adaptations the filmmakers recreated the world of the protagonist’s earlier life – often beautifully visualised with excellent period detail. The Young Wallander departs from this, filming Kurt as a young man, but in the present day. Whether this was another postmodernist jumble, or whether Netflix was just trying to save money, for me it didn’t really work. While it clearly tackled contemporary issues, it prevented us from getting a sense of what shaped Wallander’s early career – what was happening in 1960s Sweden and how this influenced his developing police work. This made it a less successful prequel, but overall it wasn’t a bad contemporary series. And we certainly got to see and understand something of the concerns of disaffected migrant groups in Sweden. As a stand-alone, non-prequel, I might have given it another half star.
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