5 October 2014 | l_rawjalaurence
Slightly Undramatic and Contrived Murder Mystery
Compared to the other five in the CRIMES OF PASSION series, DEATH IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD had a pronounced lack of dramatic action, as well as a rather contrived denouement.
The ingredients are all there: it's Christmas Eve, and Puck (Tuva Novotny) attends a family gathering. All plans for the festive season go awry when local store-owner Arne (Reuben Sallmander) is hacked to death with an ax. The tale unfolds by twists and turns, as Eje (Linus Wahlgren) has a flirtation with Arne's widow Barbara (Katia Winter), while ten-year-old child Lotta (Ella Fogelström), a would-be detective, finds herself involved in some distinctly unsavory proceedings. Meanwhile Lotta's father, the local vicar Tord (Jacob Ericksson) tries to forestall Christer's (Ola Rapace's) investigations in an attempt to uphold the Christian spirit of the times, but at the same time conceals a guilty secret.
Christian Eklöw and Christopher Panov's production unfolds as a series of undramatic set-pieces, involving a considerable amount of plot-information exchanged by the characters. Most of the action takes place off-screen; the most we get to hear are screams from Lotta and Barbara. This type of structure forces viewers to pay particular attention to the plot, otherwise they might miss something that helps to explain why the murders were actually committed. Nonetheless there are still a considerable amount of red herrings here, few of which appear to bear much relevance to the story.
TRAGEDY ON A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD has plenty of atmosphere; the snow- covered landscapes, the musty country churches; the cottages with roaring fires. On the other hand the production itself is rather deficient in terms of action. Even Christer has to cope with an unaccustomed disappointment, as he manages not to end up with a girl at the end of the drama.