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Review: Varg Veum: Companions of Death – Varg Veum – Dødens drabanter (2011)

Directed by: | 90 minutes | | Actors: , , , Line Verndal, Vegar Hoel, Sturla Alvsvåg, , , , , ,

Private detective Varg Veum sprang from the brain of the Norwegian writer Gunnar Staalesen. His first appeared in 1977. In 2007 the character of the novel was brought to the silver screen. Smart, because in recent years interest in Scandinavian thrillers has risen sharply, thanks to series such as “The Killing” and of course “Millennium”. The popularity of Veum is steadily increasing and the books have already been translated into Dutch, English, Swedish, Danish and German.

Unlike super sleuths like Baantjer and Sherlock Holmes, Veum relies on common sense. And his patience. The solution to a murder does not come out of the blue. Veum has to work hard for it, just letting go of some theories (Holmes) or having a drink (Baantjer) does not ensure that the case is resolved. Veum is a human, not a superhero. He’s struggling with his past and isn’t always easy to get along with. That humanity makes him so empathic. Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim portrays the character with great pleasure. Very nice to watch.

In “Dødens drabanter” – or “Companions of Death” in Dutch – Veum faces a tricky case. Teenager Jan Egil is suspected of murder. The 16-year-old boy is said to have killed his foster parents. Veum bites the case, but is therefore confronted with his own past. When Veum’s ex-girlfriend gets involved, things get even more complicated.

The interesting thing about the films around Veum is the fact that it is not so much about the crimes. It’s about people and the way they deal with certain situations. Each episode elaborates on a different aspect of Veum’s character. The acting is very strong. The mood setting has also been hit well. The desolate Norwegian landscape creates a melancholic atmosphere. The melancholic feeling that this series evokes makes the films just that little bit more intense. The moody soundtrack completes it. “Companions of Death” is another thrilling, intelligent and entertaining adventure from this gruff detective.

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