The Inheritance

Something is once again rotten in Denmark, but now it's free-market capitalism slowly grinding the soul of a once happy man into dust. Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen), a successful young restaurateur married to rising Shakespearean actress Maria (Lisa Werlinder), is enjoying life in Stockholm when he receives a life-altering phone call: His father, Aksel (Ulf...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Something is once again rotten in Denmark, but now it's free-market capitalism slowly grinding the soul of a once happy man into dust. Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen), a successful young restaurateur married to rising Shakespearean actress Maria (Lisa Werlinder), is enjoying life in Stockholm when he receives a life-altering phone call: His father, Aksel (Ulf Pilgaard), the director of a major Danish steel company, has hanged himself. Christoffer rushes home for the funeral, but before his father's body is even cold his imperious mother, Annelise (Ghita Norby), flatly announces that Christoffer will be taking over the family business, even though Ulrik (Lars Brygmann), Christoffer's brother-in-law, has spent the past 15 years grooming himself for the job. Christoffer has no desire to abandon his happy life in Sweden — besides, the three years he once spent working for his father nearly killed him — but Annelise will not take no for an answer. And so over the objections of Maria, Ulrik and Ulrik's wife, Benedikte (Karina Skands), Christoffer bows to the pressure and accepts the directorship. Immediately there's trouble. Aksel, who'd been hiding a major deficit for years, had plans to merge his company with a French steel concern but the bank that was keeping his company afloat is having a crisis of confidence in its inexperienced new leader. Annalise, who owns a controlling interest in the corporation, tells Christoffer that he needs to make a bold statement, like laying off 200 of their trusting employees. Further eroding the bank manager's faith is the fact that someone's been spreading rumors to the effect that Christoffer intends to loot the company's cash assets, and Niels (Peter Steen), Christoffer's CFO and right-hand man, whispers to Christoffer that the culprit is none other than Ulrik. Danish director Per Fly's striking, often suspenseful drama has all the elements of a Shakespearean tragedy: an insecure young prince who must prove his mettle and loses his soul; a cruel, manipulative queen who cares only for power; a close adviser whose motives aren't always clear. But the end product far more closely resembles the critiques of French filmmaker Laurence Cantet (HUMAN RESOURCES; TIME OUT), who also deftly explores the toll capitalism takes on human lives. The acting is uniformly superb, but Norby, who was equally unforgettable in Lars Von Trier's KINGDOM and KINGDOM II, is a standout. She makes the most of an essentially one-dimensional villain. A little more depth could only have further enriched this already satisfying film.

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Something is once again rotten in Denmark, but now it's free-market capitalism slowly grinding the soul of a once happy man into dust. Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen), a successful young restaurateur married to rising Shakespearean actress Maria (Lisa Werlind… (more)

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