Kenneth Branagh Fitting Anthony Hopkins and Judi Dench for ‘The Italian Shoes’

Kenneth Branagh seems to be a fan of author Henning Mankell. First he ,adapted the author’s series of novels about policeman Kurt Wallander into a series called Wallander for the BBC, and now there’s news that he’s going to direct a feature film adapted from another Mankell book, “The Italian Shoes.”

You may be wondering what The Italian Shoes is about, and I’m glad you asked, because I didn’t know either. A quick trip over to the novel’s Amazon page reveals a hunk of text that describes it like this:

“Living on a tiny island entirely surrounded by ice during the long winter months, Fredrik Welin is so lost to the world that he cuts a hole in the ice every morning and lowers himself into the freezing water to remind himself that he is alive. Haunted by memories of the terrible mistake that drove him to this island and away from a successful career as a surgeon, he lives in a stasis so complete an anthill grows undisturbed in his living room. When an unexpected visitor alters his life completely, thus begins an eccentric, elegiac journey…”

Perhaps that unexpected visitor is an ex-girlfriend, because according to a Variety report Branagh is very serious about getting Anthony Hopkins to play the good doctor and Judi Dench to play a former love interest of said doctor. It would make sense that a lady would be the life-changing experience. Isn’t that always the way?

Branagh has directed both of these actors in the past, Hopkins in the recent Thor, and Dench in things like Henry V and Hamlet, so he knows what he’s getting if they sign. And apparently he’s willing to shift around his schedule to make sure that he can accommodate theirs. That’s some high praise form a director, and seeing as they both have experiences working with Branagh already, I would imagine it’s only a matter of time before Hopkins and Dench go from being “in talks to star” in this film to officially announced. That’s going to be a lot of pedigree for one little movie.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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