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Wallander: An Event in Autumn (2012)

November 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Wallander: An Event in Autumn (2012) takes us into new territory because, unlike the previous episodes, this is based on a short story, Händelse om hösten, not a novel by Henning Mankell although, as with the previous episodes, it’s brought to the small screen by Yellow Bird.

It’s a distinctly weird feeling to see Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) vaguely happy. He’s no longer popping pills, drinks only in moderation, actually dresses in sensible and clean clothes, and sleeps in a bed. It’s a radical departure from the manic depressive who drank himself into insensibility and slept in his clothes on the nearest surface to lie on. And it’s all the fault of Vanja Andersson (Saskia Reeves), his new woman, her young son, and the damn dog. Particularly, I blame the dog. Well, I was going to blame the dog but, obviously fearing the title, “Mutt of the Year”, the dog decides to do something to right the balance so, when Wallander is looking, it digs up a body in the garden of the farm house the newly-forming family has rented to be home. There’s nothing more likely to return him to an obsessed, manic state than the paranoid feeling someone has planted the body in his garden as a plot against him. Anyway, this black labrador is not done yet and gets on the phone to dogs around Sweden. They are to go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure Wallander is returned to the self-destructive state we have all come to know, if not love.

Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) and Ann-Britt Hoglund (Sarah Smart) before disaster strikes

That’s why, when Wallander and Ann-Britt Hoglund (Sarah Smart) climb over a fence to either confront a previous man who rented the farm house or do an illegal search, the two Alsatian guard dogs attack so viciously. Naturally, they want to tear Wallander to pieces — watching him week after week has undermined their “man’s best friend” approach to the world. They want blood. That’s why, in sequence, Ann-Britt shoots both dogs in self-defence and the dog’s owner wraps a sledgehammer round her ear in protest. There’s nothing more likely to get our hero depressed than guilt. Had he not been intent on bending the rules on the illegal entry, no-one would have been hurt. His faithful colleague who had just been promoted and was moving away to another town. Now she’s in a coma and being tortured by “The Incy Wincy Spider” on permanent loop. Apparently background noise soothes people lying unconscious in a coma induced by Wallander. So before you can say, Dognabbit, Wallander is back in his drink-a-bottle-of-wine, sleep in his clothes routine. He’s obsessionally on the case, forgetting to call home to explain why he’s suddenly decided to go to Poland.

Vanja (Saskia Reeves) at the beginning of the slow-motion crash

Ah, yes, Poland. Needless to say, it never rains but it pours in these murder mystery episodes. There’s also a suspicious death on a ferry that plies between Sweden and Poland. A girl is seen falling into the sea and bits of the body are washed up on the shore. Fortunately, with the dogged Wallander on the trail, it will soon become obvious this is a murder and, bloodhound-like, he’ll be hot in pursuit of the killer(s). Naturally, as in previous episodes, the guilty will either commit suicide or face arrest after a vicious fight. The total body count this time is four which is not very impressive, particularly because only one body is covered in blood. It’s a very tame episode with only references to prostitution rather than any other major social problems (anger at Polish immigration is only hinted at). Of course, when we get to the end, Wallander and Vanja are in counselling. As is one of the many ironies, this is the same counsellor who failed to save Wallander’s marriage. It seems, when you burrow down through the flesh and come to the bone, he’s never going to change. Love him or hate him, he’s destined to walk his own road. Whether Vanja will stay by his side is no longer certain. If she takes the dog with her, he’ll be alone again and no longer have an excuse for appearing to be a member of the human race. It’s rather like anticipating expulsion from the Garden of Eden because he insists on eating apples. Nyberg (Richard McCabe) has survived into this series but there are new police officers as Tom Hiddleston has gone on to Hollywood. Some actors are doing well out of this series. As to the verdict on Wallander: An Event in Autumn, it’s slightly better than average because we get to see a range of emotion from all the characters. Light and shade is better than the more monotonous texture of the earlier episodes. As to the plot itself, it relies too heavily on coincidence to be satisfying. Shame really. If the plot had been simpler, we would have had a better balance between character development and the crime to be solved. This is just a bit of a dog’s breakfast (sic).

For reviews of other films and television programs by Yellow Bird:
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest or Luftslottet som sprängdes (2009)
The Girl Who Played With Fire or Flickan som lekte med elden (2009)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or Män som hatar kvinnor (2009)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Headhunters or Hodejegerne (2011)
Wallander: Before the Frost (2012)
Wallander: The Dogs of Riga (2012)
Wallander: Faceless Killers (2010)
Wallander: The Fifth Woman (2010)
Wallander: Firewall (2009)
Wallander: The Man Who Smiled (2010)
Wallander: One Step Behind (2008)
Wallander: Sidetracked (2009)

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