I wrote the other day about a marvellous Argentinian actor who expertly conveys a whole range of emotions while remaining almost totally expressionless. Kenneth Branagh gave a fine demonstration of this skill in three stylish films which the BBC has just broadcast. They are adaptations of novels by the Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell; here there is an exhaustive description of the background to the filming.
Branagh played the detective Kurt Wallander and almost succeeded in giving him an interesting if not attractive personality: scruffy, unshaven, diabetic, a self-confessed crap dad and not smelling very nice, he also lacks social skills and tends to converse by twitching his thin lips in silence while you try to guess at what he might be very slowly thinking, if anything. Often, he just wanders away without a word when he gets bored with whoever he is talking to. So of course women fall about with admiration for him, and his chief (male) assistant is madly and secretly in love with him until he is brutally murdered by a transvestite: the assistant, that is. It's a rich full life in the quiet little town in southern Sweden where the stories are set.
Although he can run quite fast and shoot straight when necessary, Wallander is totally exhausted most of the time, or possibly in some kind of coma. This introduces a note of real suspense: one is constantly wondering whether he is going to make it to the end of the episode before he drops off to sleep.
The plots are preposterous, and it is all brilliantly done. There is talk of another three Wallander adaptations being made in a year or so, and I eagerly await them.