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.