August 12, 2011


Clive James on... The Proms, Wallander and The Impressionists (Clive James, 8/11/11, )

In the international, electronically connected world of police procedurals, only the Scandinavians are truly exotic. By now there are knock-offs of Law & Order coming out of Hong Kong, but it still takes Sweden to make a true Wallander (BBC Four). The British have had a go by casting Kenneth Branagh in the same role, but even with the area around his eyes further abraded with sandpaper he still comes over as Red Skelton when compared with Krister Henriksson in the all-Swedish original. Henriksson starred in a particularly fine episode last week. His protégée, the young girl cop Isabelle (Nina Zanjani), always apt to go barging in when ordered not to, this time emerged with all the reasons for her psychological volatility on cruel display. You see, she once, when only 14, was forced to...

Ah, but you don't want to know, and if you do you can watch it on BBC iPlayer. The great thing about the current season is that the lonely Wallander, the man whose face is the silent version of a howling dog, has at last been given a soulmate, in the person of his graceful prosecutor - played with lofty distinction by Lena Endre - but they aren't hurrying. Nothing hurries in that part of Sweden. That's the whole secret of Scandinavian Cultural Imperialism, which I know I promised to publish a study of soon: the pace is not a cracker. The pace is barely a ripple. It maintains a lethargy that can scarcely be described.

..the final Wallander novel--The Troubled Man--reaches LeCarre-esque levels of hilarity as the reader realizes that the eponymous man is Mankell and what he's troubled by is that Sweden was an ally of the US against the Soviet Union. No, seriously.

Posted by at August 12, 2011 7:28 AM

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