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Per Fly's The Inheritance (Denmark) (2003)
Posted: Wed Jul 20, 2005 7:50 pm
Many of the Danish films that have come out in recent years could be chastised for being excessively bleak. However, much like what the best of Iranian cinema has to offer, they represent viewpoints that arent normally considered, and they refuse to compromise their objectives. Per Flys award-winning The Inheritance (Arven) is one such film. It tackles various key issues such as social and familial responsibility, corporate politics, and most importantly, their effects on ones individuality. Christoffer (Ulrich Thomson, the brilliant Danish actor from The Celebration and Brothers) is a thriving restaurateur in Sweden who's living blissfully with his actress wife (Lisa Werlinder) until he receives the news that his father has died in Denmark, leaving him his nearly bankrupt steel factory. Now his overbearing mother (Ghita Norby) wants him to run the show much to the dismay of his wife, not to mention his brother-in-law who was part of the business. The Inheritance is the second of director Per Flys trilogy of films about the Danish social classes. His acclaimed debut feature, Bnken ("The Bench" ), dealt with the concerns faced by the working class, and here Fly meticulously charts the struggles faced by a man whos been rich for generations as he heads this consuming task. The film's exteriors are formally elegant while a handheld DV and grainy stock is expertly employed for its interior sequences epitomizing Christoffers dilemmas. As the business gets back on its feet, his personal life deteriorates, ultimately resulting in what he suspected all along. There is a false note late in this otherwise remarkable film which won six Danish Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, but Ulrich Thomsens brilliant portrayal of man deteriorating from within renders it meaningless.
THE INHERITANCE was recently released in the U.S. on DVD by Homevision. A Danish DVD with subs is also available.
Re: Per Fly's The Inheritance (Denmark) (2003)
Posted: Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:25 am
Arven (2003) Inheritance
Directed by Per Fly
Starring Ulrich Thomsen (Festen, Brdre), Lisa Werlinder
Excellent Danish drama built around a youngish man, Christoffer who gives up his freedom and life to take responsibility for his familys business after his fathers suicide.
Christoffer has a fairly carefree life in Stockholm with his young actress wife Maria, he runs a successful restaurant and is relaxed and happy until the day he receives a phone call telling him of his fathers death. On returning home he is persuaded by his mother to take over running the family owned steel factory, much to the annoyance of Maria who wants to return to their home and lives.
What follows is the disintegration and reconstruction of Christoffer (mainly instigated by his mother), he loses everything he cared about, Marie puts up with the change to their lives for two years (after which he had promised they would return to their previous lives) taking their newly born baby back to Stockholm with her. He loses lifelong friends and alienates members of his own family as he desperately tries to save the Company (his father had accumulated huge debts) and most importantly, he loses his lifestyle and freedom, in other words he loses himself.
Remarried, though seemingly not for love, he takes a business trip to Stockholm and espies Marie with their young child, she hasnt changed, fresh, vibrant and happy to see him. He on the other hand has aged and become dour, they arrange for him to see her latest play then meet up afterwards. Is there hope for them, will they get back together, can he salvage anything of his former self?
I loved the acting, very good and naturalistic, no melodramatics here. The camera work is exceptional too, half the time you feel as though youre spying voyeuristically on this man and his life. The matriarch of the family is the real power behind the Company and she does her fair bit to ensure that Christoffer stays home, a real battleaxe. The film ably demonstrates the price of responsibility and power on the human soul.
Danish cinema has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years (no small thanks to a certain Lars von Trier) and this excellent film is just one example of its growth in stature on the world stage, highly recommended.
BBFC rated 15
Region 2 Pal dvd available from Swipe films, Region 1 ntsc dvd available from Home Vision.
Re: Per Fly's The Inheritance (Denmark) (2003)
Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:24 pm
THE INHERITANCE (Arven)
Directed by Per Fly (2003), 117 minutes
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Matthew 16:26
A well-to-do businessman arrives in Stockholm. On the surface he is self assured and in control, yet underneath he is a man experiencing a desperate emotional and spiritual crisis that threatens to take control of his life. Similar in theme to Laurent Cantets Time Out, Danish director Per Flys The Inheritance is a penetrating look at the humane cost of serving a soulless corporation out of duty and obligation. The second in a trilogy that deals with Danish life from different social levels, it is an absorbing drama of old wealth and modern capitalism that takes us into the soul of Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen), the wealthy son of a prominent steel magnate. Reserved, almost reticent, Christoffer hides his feelings like a surprise birthday present, but when they are unwrapped they also unravel.
In a flashback to five years ago, we learn that he is a successful restaurateur in Sweden, happily married to Maria (Lisa Werlinder), a Shakespearean actress who is offered a contract for one year at the Royal Dramatic Theater. Christoffers life is turned upside down, however, when he learns that his father Aksel (Ulf Pilgaard), the owner of the Borch-Muller steel mill, has committed suicide after concealing the companys substantial debt. Like Michael Corleone in The Godfather, he is then forced to choose between his sense of loyalty to his family and his personal freedom when his imperious mother Annelise (Ghita Norby), showing no confidence in his brother-in-law Ulrik (Lars Brygmann), insists that he take over the leadership of the steelworks.
Maria, unwilling to give up her career, pleads with him to refuse to lead the company, now almost bankrupt. Christoffer is hesitant and first agrees with his wife, but when he comes face to face with the companys employees, many of whom would have to be laid off, he capitulates and agrees to assume his fathers position. It is a turning point in his life. Though it never becomes clear where the truth lies, Christoffer hears from his associate Niels (Peter Steen) that Ulrik is spreading rumors to undermine the companys position with the bank. He is forced to fire Ulrik, precipitating a crisis with his sister Benedikte (Karina Skands) who remains steadfast in his support and refuses to have anything further to do with her brother.
When Christoffer has to dismiss 200 workers until the company can get back on its feet, it begins to affect his personality. He refuses to talk about his work with Maria and becomes totally preoccupied with completing a merger with a prominent European steelworks company. Taken aback by the callousness apparently necessary to run the business, Maria is angered by her husbands reluctance to share his problems at work and by his mother, Annelise, who tells Christoffer not to talk about his emotions. If this sounds like an episode from Dynasty, it would only be partially true. For the most part, the characters and their motivations are too nuanced and complex for it to be considered as soap opera, though unfortunately the film lapses into melodrama near the end.
The Inheritance can be viewed on several levels: as a testament to what the modern day corporation has become, a machine that inevitably gobbles up ones humanity; as the story of a selfless individual, willing to sacrifice his own happiness for his familys business; or as the sad tale of a man who is more comfortable being in a dependent relationship with his mother than in fully assuming the adult responsibilities of marriage and emotional independence. Regardless of your interpretation, The Inheritance succeeds as a compelling character study of a man who, in the process of making hard choices in the business world, loses the things in his life that are the most precious, including his self respect.