Van Veeteren Films Vol.1 Review

The Films

Of Hakan Nesser's Van Veeteren mysteries, some nine have been made into films. Arrow offer up three of these films shot in 2005/6 as volume one of their presentation of them. Hoping, I imagine, to cash in on the current taste for Scandinavian dramas that is even causing home-made affairs like ITV's recent Broadchurch to follow in style and tone, Arrow's set is suitably spartan in sympathy with the straightforwardness of the stories they tell.imageOthers have tried to analyse the trend so I won't spend too much time pointing out how this genre of detective thrillers are full of worldly angst and modern disaffection. Whether it's Sarah Lund, Kurt Wallander or Alec Hardy, our sleuths are present to lead us through the rank and shocking streets that look just like those we live on, populated by the outwardly respectable and kept safe by those who doubt the very purpose of their work.

The Van Veeteren mysteries, at least in written form, attempt something very similar to that of Henning Mankell's most famous creation. For the ageing but still working Wallander, we have the semi-retired pensioner cop Van Veeteren, and for the global worries of Mankell we get a more parochial dissection of modern Europe courtesy of Nesser. Nesser's outlook is though a more positive and shared one, eschewing a total focus on his everyman to consider the world through the eyes of others.imageThis collection makes a virtue of those multiple perspectives with the three episodes following first Van Veeteren, then his successor (Munster) as he seeks to make a name for himself, before concluding with the persistence of cop Eva Moreno, a workaholic singleton. In the last two episodes Van Veeteren is the backseat driver and mentor as his successors search for the truth.

We begin with Borkmann's Point and a retiring Van Veeteren as he notices similarities in the murder cases facing his young successors and an old friend. He is revealed as a shambling mess whose personal life has been eaten up by his abilities as a cop – his neglected wife id dead, his son is a criminal and a drug addict. Wollter's ex-cop is always on the job with his life upside down as a mentor at work and a policeman at home.imageMunster's Case concentrates on the man left to fill the great man's shoes as he fights for a murder case involving celebrity, dark secrets and no little politics. Like his older counterpart we see the beginnings of the impact on his family life of being so dedicated, the great risks it takes to follow the truth and the importance of knowing people.

A lot more generic than the first instalment with a few hoary old plot devices, Munster's Case falls into the entertaining but clichéd category. Thomas Hanzon as Munster lacks charisma and his character is quite the bastard in his treatment of bosses, witnesses, partners and family. A more surprising presentation or a more layered portrayal may have helped improve this outing.imageMuch, much better and the strongest of the episodes here is Moreno and the Silence where quiet Eva Moreno is thrown center stage as she chases down an emergency call that leads to a murder spree, a religious cult and tensions between her instinctive approach and the uninspiring partner she is lumped with.

The drawing out of Moreno's character is much more successful and the well written arc of the story that allows for despair then redemption is a joy. The same unhealthy obsession ruins her non-professional life, and the weight of the world weighs equally heavy on her shoulders, but Eva Rexed's performance is believable, sympathetic and touching without the writing stooping to stereotypes or easy sexual politics.imageWhilst not as internationally ambitious as the work of Henning Mankell, Nesser's novels are beautifully written and an insight into the lives we live. These adaptations retain a lot of the observation and mostly avoid short-sighted genre fixes. For those who have enjoyed the Swedish Wallander TV series, they will appreciate this collection.

The Discs

Largely extras free, this set comes on two region 2 locked discs with a forced trailer for other Arrow product. Two episodes appear on the dual layer disc one and the Moreno episode sits on the single layer disc two. Menu art is very basic but easy to navigate and each episode carries a file size of around 3GB.imageAll three episodes are transferred at about 1.78:1 which is close to the original aspect ratio for each. There is some evidence of edge enhancement, although not serious enough to distract you, and the transfers are true enough in terms of avoiding brightening or colour boosting. Black levels are sound and this adds up to a good visual presentation.

Each film has a stereo soundtrack in Swedish which are all perfectly serviceable without being dynamic or adding much to the atmosphere. Burnt-in subs will probably annoy you as much as they do me, especially when the odd typo still exists.


If you require further sustenance to that Weltschmerz that is eating at you, then this collection will help you out as Wallander and The Killing did before it. Only available in the UK on this two DVD set.

7 out of 10
6 out of 10
6 out of 10
0 out of 10


out of 10

Latest Articles