The Inheritance



Duty to one's family versus duty to one's spouse come to a head in The Inheritance, a film that is someitmes as emotionally empty as the soulless corporate executives that it portrays. The central character is Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen, Mostly Martha, The Weight of Water), who abandoned the family business years ago. He moved to Sweden where he opened a restaurant and married Maria (Lisa Werlinder, Flamingo, A Song for Martin), who is an aspiring actress. The film never digs too deeply into the past and why Christoffer left, but it is clear that things did not go well in the marriage until he left, and now Christoffer is estranged from the family. His father suddenly dies, leaving the company in a state of flux. Christoffer feels duty-bound to return to Sweden and help his family run the company, a steel mill.

This does not sit well with Maria. They are leaving their entire life behind; their friends, their jobs, and moving to the middle of nowhere. Maria has no friends there, and while Christoffer promises to spend time with her and limit his tenure at work, things quickly go from bad to worse. The Inheritance is probably the closest a movie will come to being a corporate drama. Most of the film involves the efforts of Christoffer to help resurrect the dying company, dealing with corporate rivals, and his increasing emotional distance from Maria. His mother Annelise (Ghita Norby, El Cocinero, Shake Your Heart) applies tremendous pressure on him to return to work. Christoffer has the brains, just not the desire. His brother-in-law Ulrik (Lars Brygmann, The Accident, Stealing Rembrandt) is jealous, because he feels that he is the one who should take control. After all, he didn't abandon the family.

Things change quickly. The steel industry is in horrible shape, which means layoffs. Christoffer has a much more progressive management style, but has to be forceful and abrasive in order to send a message to shareholders. This means layoffs of people who have worked for his family for decades. He does not want to involve Maria in any of this, but because it occupies so much of his time, he shuts Maria out completely. Maria makes futile attempts to try to salvage their marriage, but Christoffer continues to choose his job and his family over her. It's pretty interesting watching Thomsen change from a pretty nice guy to somebody who isn't necessarily mean, but is heartless. Screenwriters Per Fly (Prop and Berta, The Bench), Kim Leona (The Boy Below, Flop), Mogens Rukov (It's All About Love, Kira's Reason), and Dorte Hoeg write Christoffer as hopelessly obstinate. He can see how his life is crumbling around him, yet acts only when it seems too late. He constantly makes promises to Maria that both know he will eventually break.

Fly (who also directed) turns this into a story about a man slowly losing his soul. He has to fired old friends and trusted advisors, all in the pursuit of money and success. This is what he thinks is the most important thing, when in actuality, it is Maria. Christoffer cannot fathom that there can be compromise between life and work. He and Annelise has a pig-headed quality about them that alienates others, even those close to them. The colors seem washed-out, giving everything a dull, one can almost say business-like look. The tension is present, but surprisingly never feels tangible. They focus a little too much on the business side, and by doing this dull things down considerably.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 47 minutes, Danish with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains language and some sensuality, most likely an R.

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