Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Wallander - The Man Who Smiled: review


The Man Who Smiled is the first episode of Swedish TV’s version of Wallander that I’ve seen starring Rolf Lassgard in the title role. He was the original Wallander, and is arguably closer to Hanning Mankell's character than his successors. Yet at first, I didn’t really take to his portrayal of the cop as something of a fat slob who goes to bed with a prostitute and then throws her out of his room.

However, the script was rather well written, and subtleties emerged in the story and characterisation that were not immediately apparent - especially to me, as I've not read the book. Although Wallander’s behaviour eventually cost him his relationship with his colleague Maja, Lassgard grew on me as the programme went on.

The story is complicated and unusual, beginning in true Henning Mankell style with an eerie and memorable scene – an old man who is driving his car in the rain, stops when he comes face to face with a mysterious South American figure. Needless to say, he does not survive the encounter.

The ending was fairly downbeat, in a way that is far from traditional, yet seemed believable. There were plenty of vivid moments throughout, and on the whole – even though I still think I prefer Krister Henriksson as Wallander - I felt this was an extremely watchable episode.

15 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Isn't it interesting how one or another actor's portrayal of a character can make such a difference? I think that's especially true for people who see a film or television episode after they've read a book and have a mental picture of the character. Unfortunately, Wallander isn't available where I live, so I'll have to look for the DVDs....

Max Allan Collins said...

Where did you see this? Is it available on DVD? Thanks.

Janet O'Kane said...

I find it uncanny how you always seem to know what I've saved on my Sky+ planner and manage to review it just as I'm wondering whether to watch or delete! Thanks again for stopping me from pressing the wrong button. This review has made me decide to give the other Wallander a try.

Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

Thanks for your review Martin. Hope they will be available in DVD soon.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Good review. Hard for me to go back to thinking of Wallander as a slob who hangs out with prostitutes after seeing Branagh's version, though!

adele said...

I much prefer the other Swedish Wallander but did get used to this beefy, rather ugly, but in the end quite endearing one.

Dorte H said...

I don´t think I have watched this episode, but as we saw Lassgård in the role as Wallander first, he has always been ´my Wallander´. Krister Henriksson is a fine actor but too quiet for the role in my opinion.

NB: Via NetGalley I got a lovely review copy today of a book I am looking very much forward to! So let me ask a writer: when is the best time to publish a review? I could imagine it would be shortly before the publication date so readers can rush out and buy it immediately.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Max, it was on a UK TV channel - not sure if it's on DVD.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Janet, let us know what you think about it!

Martin Edwards said...

Adele, I agree!

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, I think it's definitely worth looking out for.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Dorte, well, I would say a review to coincide with publication is always ideal!

Ali Karim said...

As a fan of Mankell and Wallander both novels and films / TV - your thoughts mirrored my own. At first I thought yes Wallnder is closer to the Novels in terms of appearnace and actions, but I thought yes a real slob, nobbing with a prostitute, etc not too cool, but got better and I got used to him. The later episodes were excellent as BBC4 are screening the entire run [i beleive], but evsn so I really like the Krister Henrikson series, but in terms of theme, these orignals [based on Mankell's novels] are excellent.

Nothing like a bit of Scandavaian angst to kick start 2011, happy new year

Ali

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Ali - and a very happy new year to you and your family! Hope to see you soon.

bookwitch said...

I think Lassgård is more like Wallander is meant to be, which is why I didn't take to Wallander to start with. He is very Swedish. Krister Henriksson is more refined, and I wonder now if that's why he appeals so much to British viewers.