Varg Veum - Bitre blomster (2007)
Succeeded by: Varg Veum - Tornerose (2008)
This is the sort of film we've always had to import in Norway - at least if we wanted them good enough to sit through. There is a great tradition for crime fiction in Scandinavia and the market for books and films about private detectives and headstrong police investigators is consistently high. The Swedes have adapted Jan Guillou's Hamilton and a series of TV-movies of Sjöwall and Wahlöös' Beck that subsequently have been great successes on DVD. In Norwegian film it started with the adaptations of Anne Holt's female police detective Hanne Wilhelmsen, and we have since gotten Den som frykter ulven based on Karin Fossum's novel.
When Gunnar Staalesen's Varg Veum is finally brought to the screen, it's as if we've come full circle. Veum is the classic, old school private detective, stemming from a long line of shady heroes right down to Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. That is why it is a welcomed relief to see director Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen (Izzat) giving Veum the good old-fashioned treatment. The main priority here is suspense, and this is thrust forward effectively by fine craftmanship and a sexily determined Trond Espen Seim. Some of the investigatory breaks may come across as a tad too convenient, and the one-dimensional slimeball bad guys seem like foreign bodies in a film set in Bergen, but that doesn't diminish the fun or the effect of this well-written story. And, of course, the filmmakers have been wise enough to deploy Bjørn Floberg to spice things up a little. Some tricks work every time.