July 9, 2011

BEAUTIFUL LEADS, UGLY SOCIETY:

A ‘Mystery!’ Series That Has (Gasp!) Actual Sunshine (ELIZABETH JENSEN, 7/09/11, NY Times))

Beginning next Sunday the series takes a very different turn, with adaptations of three books by the British writer Michael Dibdin, centered on his Italian police detective Aurelio Zen. [...]

Publicity materials for “Zen” paint the character as an “honest cop” bringing “justice to modern-day Italy, whether the authorities want it or not.” Mr. Sewell sees it differently. “Always be very much wary of DVD liner notes,” he said in a telephone interview. While not corrupt in the same sense that his colleagues are, he said, Zen “can be quite morally dubious when it suits him.”

He added: “He has a slightly lackadaisical moral code, a sense of wanting to do something good. But he’s not above kicking someone when they’re down. He’s a gray area, and that’s what makes it incredibly fun.”

Just shy of 40, Zen is separated from his wife and living with his mother. “There’s a certain lack of dynamism in the character,” Mr. Sewell said. “He’s pushed around by tides and circumstances.” (But just as he always solves his case despite the conflicting pressures, he also ends up with the most sought-after woman in the office, played by an Italian actress, Caterina Murino.)

The casting proved a challenge for the producers. With “Wallander,” Mr. Harries explained, it was easy to find British actors who shared the Scandinavians’ pallor; trying to find ones who could play Italians was much harder. Mr. Harries said he had Mr. Sewell in mind for the role from the beginning, because “he has a good Eastern European Mediterranean look about him.”

But while the men are almost all English speakers, Italians were largely cast for the female roles, for creative reasons and also because the project had partial Italian financing. “English girls on the whole simply just don’t have the sensuality and looks of the Italian girls,” Mr. Harries said, quickly adding that “they have different charms.”


Sewell & Murino may be the best-looking couple in tv history, but the portrayal of how profoundly corrupt Italy is and how indifferent its people are to that reality is just devastating.


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Posted by at July 9, 2011 6:23 AM
  

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