Inheritance, The (Denmark/Sweden/Norway/UK ; 115 min.)

directed by: Per Fly
starring: Ulrich Thomsen; Lisa Werlinder; Ghita Nørby
Bruce says: "THE INHERITANCE is a complicated psychological drama about responsibility, manipulation, perception vs. reality and the prioritization of values. It is a very bleak and disturbing film. What I had read prior to seeing the film described the basic psychological conflict in black and white. I saw a million shades of gray.

"Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen) and Maria (Lisa Werlinder) are blissfully happy. She has a budding career on stage in a Stockholm repertory company and he is a successful restaurateur, planning on opening a second restaurant since his first is so successful. One morning Christoffer’s father Aksel (Ulf Pilgaard) drops by unexpectedly on his way home to Denmark from a business trip to Norway. Christoffer used to work in his father’s steel mill; the two had a parting of ways and Christoffer set off on his own. Aksel and Christoffer reminisce about working together and each has their own version of what went wrong in the relationship, 'Just wait until you get a son of your own, that’s the dream,' Aksel tells his son. As it happens, this drop in visit is a way of saying goodbye, for Aksel hangs himself the next day.

"Christoffer hastens to Denmark. Annelise, his mother (Ghita Norby), has decided Christoffer will take over the family business in spite of the fact that her son-in-law, Ulrik (Lars Brygmann) has been groomed for fifteen years to do just that. She tells Christoffer, 'You’ll have to come home now.' Christoffer and Maria discuss the possibility of moving to Denmark and decide against it. When Christoffer announces his father’s death in front of 900 employees he is devastated by an overwhelming sense of responsibility. 900 workers removing their hard hats for a minute of silence is an awesome sight. Christoffer announces to the crowd that he is taking over as head of the steel business. Maria is shocked.

"From this point on it is clear who is running the show. Not since THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE has a mother worked in such Machiavellian ways. She makes sure that Ulrik is fired. She seems not to care about her daughter’s feelings or her son-in-law’s dedication. Annelise tells Christoffer, 'You were born for this responsibility. Your sister (Karina Skands) is weak, just like your father.' Annelise then invites Annika (Diana Axelsen) an old girlfriend of Christoffer’s to attend various family functions. Annika has recently returned from an unsuccessful marriage in New York. When Christoffer and Annika are alone, she makes her move. When she asks Christoffer why their relationship fell apart, he recoils, 'Because I never loved you.' Undaunted Annika relies, 'We could have had a good life.' 'I have a good life,' he says.

"Because of heavy debts, the only way to save the steel business is to agree to a merger with Lyon Steel in France. Christoffer promises Maria that he will leave with in two years, once the new company is on its feet. When he proposes a three year venture at a celebration party, Maria packs her bags. This time their separation is more serious since they now have a newborn son named Aksel. After Maria leaves, Christoffer is left alone in a villa he has rented; to vent his frustration and anger he brutally attempts to rape a maid who is cleaning the veranda.. He descends into a drunken haze until his mother comes to take him home.

"Annelise cannot hide her joy over Maria’s departure. 'Forget her,' she tells Christoffer, 'She never had the talent or the will.' That a mother could have such control over a son who previously left the family fold for a life of his own is amazing but not unbelievable. No doubt Annelise is a woman who secretly ran the show when her husband was alive. Convincing her son that his actions are acts of strength is diabolical. In reality, Christoffer is a very weak man. He sacrifices everything that is dear to him for little personal gain. In the end he is reduced to a self-loathing shell of a man, a man who once possessed bountiful vitality, a man who had loved deeply and had enjoyed life to its fullest. His mother is very proud of him. 3.5 cats "

Michael says: "THE INHERITANCE is a Danish film that takes a Shakespearian tragedy and lays it over a tale that is so prevalent in the world today. Christoffer is happy running a restaurant and living with his actress wife Maria in Sweden. When his father dies, Christoffer becomes torn between the life he loves, and the responsibility (laid heavily upon him by his mother) of running the family steel industry in Denmark. Despite Maria’s protestations, Christoffer agrees to take over the company, shoving both of their dreams aside, as well as trampling on the aspirations of his sister’s husband who was promised the company.

"I enjoyed THE INHERITANCE, but was definitely in the minority among my fellow viewers. For some reason this film reminded me of Laurent Cantet’s L’EMPLOI DU TEMPS (TIME OUT) from several years ago, in its depiction of the working man and the societal, work-related elements that drive some people. Lisa Werlinder was particularly good as Maria, the wife who tries to stand by her husband even when his decisions exclude her. Ulrich Thomsen does a good job with Christoffer as well. Thomsen might be familiar to fans of Lars Von Trier’s THE CELEBRATION, and will hopefully be much better known by Chlotrudis members at least upon the release of Susanne Bier’s BROTHERS, which I enjoyed in Toronto this year. Director Per Fly does a good job linking the Shakespearian elements to his story without being obvious. THE INHERITANCE had a nice slow burn before finally erupting toward the end of the film. 3 ½ cats"

Carolyn says: "This was a well-made film, but the topic was rough. The son of the owner of a steel company leaves the family’s home to run a restaurant and be with his wife in Sweden. It seems that in order to keep his inheritance the son must move back home when his father dies and take over the company business. The film shows the drastic and disturbing changes Christoffer goes through trying to please his family and ends up losing his wife in the process. It’s another horrible example of how money jades people. 3 ½ cats"