Posted: 10/02/2010


Wallander II

by Del Harvey

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Henning Mankell’s highly popular and very dour police inspector Kurt Wallander returns Sundays, October 3, 10 and 17 on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS. Kenneth Branagh returns to his Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated role as the soul-searching Swedish cop created by bestselling novelist Henning Mankell in Wallander II, three gripping new Kurt Wallander cases based on the books that launched the Nordic thriller craze.

In Faceless Killers (October 3), The Man Who Smiled (October 10) and The Fifth Woman (October 17), the down-at-the-heels sleuth is nearing the end of his emotional rope — at odds with his daughter, his father, his gyrating blood sugar and coming to terms with having killed a man. It’s almost more than a self-doubting crime solver can stomach.

Branagh is joined by David Warner as his father, Tom Hiddleston (Return to Cranford) as Wallander’s fellow cop Magnus, Jeany Spark (Tess of the d’Urbervilles) as Wallander’s long-suffering daughter Linda and guest star Rupert Graves (The Forsyte Saga).

I have watched the two previous Swedish-made Wallander series, one starring Rolf Lassgård and one starring Krister Henriksson, and thoroughly enjoyed them both. But Branagh’s performance grows on you, and I believe his characterization to be the best of the three. There is no doubt that each actor is a master craftsman of the art, but if anything Branagh’s focus takes the character further by practicing greater restraint of emotion. The result is greater depth, a revelation of more complex emotion, from this rumpled and relentless detective.

Wallander II airs Sundays, October 3, 10 and 17 on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS. For further information, click here.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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