Excellent, carefully made film
Mark Mussari | Old Pueblo | 07/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Inheritance (Arven), one of the most thoughtful films to come out of Denmark in recent years, is directed by Per Fly. The Inheritance is actually the second film in a trilogy about class in Denmark (the first was the highly regarded The Bench, starring Jesper Christensen). It is not, however,a political film: its focus is, instead, personal. This film stars Ulrich Thomsen (from The Celebration) as a young man who runs a cafe in Sweden but is abruptly called home to Denamrk when his magnate father dies. His overpowering mother (played by a force known as Ghita Noerby, one of Denmark's finest actors) insists that he take over the business, even though he has no interests and has tried before to enter the business world of running a factory with disastrous results. The decision to accept his responsibility results in the collapse of his marriage to a loving Swedish wife and eventually the loss of his ethical and emotional equilibrium. Fine natural acting throughout is augmented by an exceptional score. The extras are revealing, especially when the actors speak about their respective challenges. Highly recommeneded antidote to mindless Hollywood blockbusters."
Powerful Drama with a Contemporary Shakespearian Tone...
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 06/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Choices in life often make a person choose a direction that will affect their own and the people near and dear to them. In the light of this Per Fly has directed a powerful drama with a contemporary Shakespearian tone, maybe Hamlet, where the theme brings along several intricate side plots that will influence the audience in several ways. The film opens with Danish businessman Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen), who many will recognize from Celebration (1998), arriving to Stockholm where he is supposed to have a meeting, which unfortunately has been cancelled. Instead of returning home he wanders the streets of the Swedish capital, as if he lived there. Then he sits down in front of a fountain gazing up at a window where a woman closes a window, as the story flashes back five years.
In the nearby country of Sweden Christoffer has sought a personal refuge from family and family company. He has succeed in establishing himself in the competitive Stockholm restaurant market and he is about to diversify himself through his profits in another restaurant. Everything seems to fall in place for him, as his love life with Maria (Lisa Werlinder )is even growing stronger than his professional life. Maria's career is also blooming, as she reveals that she has been offered an annual contract with the Royal Theater in Stockholm, including a part as Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It seems as if nothing in the world could touch their happiness. When Christoffer's father, Aksel (Ulf Pilgaard) arrives unannounced he is ecstatic to share with him about their happiness and success. However, this unbreakable bubble of joy slowly begins to fade away when Christoffer finds out that his father has hanged himself shortly after his visit.
The news of his father's death forces him to leave Stockholm at once in order to arrange the funeral and all of the details around the family business. Here the audience could possibly recognize the parallel to Hamlet. When Christoffer arrives his mother quickly informs him that he is needed in Denmark, and that he is to take over the family steel company. It also seems that Aksel hid a large negative balance and the banks are getting restless with his death. Amidst the family crisis the company also faces dark financial times that will force them to lay off at least hundred employees and find a company to merge with in order to maintain strong on the highly competitive steel market. Christoffer also has to take into account that Maria has a life in Stockholm with a thriving career and he has taken the position that was understood that his brother-in-law, Ulrik (Lars Brygmann) should have. Whatever Christoffer's decision is it will hurt someone, as he finds himself in a troubling crossroads of his life where his decision will make strong ripples throughout his life and those near to him.
The fascination with the story rests within Christoffer's choice and how he tries to keep things together while slowly drifting into a personally miserably state. Fly creates an atmosphere where the protagonist is selfish and unselfish at the same time, as he drifts into a cerebral confusion where he wanders aimlessly in order to please them all. In the process of helping others, he gets himself lost where his misery induces a more depressive tone to his life, which he begins to accept. All of this is possible through a brilliant performance from an outstanding and a rather unknown cast on this side of the Atlantic. In addition, Fly illustrates his eye for details, as the mise-en-scene embraces the characters in a pragmatic, yet artistic manner where everything that needs to be framed within the shot exists. Cumulatively, those who find themselves engrossed in this poignant drama will discover Christoffer's transformation radiantly tragic, as the human drama reaches its pinnacle."
Gavin Clifford | Melbourne, Australia | 07/31/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At first, what seems a documentary-style film with quite dry content, becomes a fascinating study of the power of family duty hardening the heart of a good man. Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen) has a beautiful wife and great life. Just how he turns into a ruthless, impotent mechanoid, only interested in the family company's success - at the cost of everything and anything else that may be in its path, is both shocking and captivating."
Family: Obligations, Commitments, Consequences
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 11/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Writer/director Per Fly is a strong filmmaker from Denmark who is unafraid to make controversial statements that challenge certain 'family values' sentiments prevalent in this country. In this brilliantly written, directed and acted film he manages to reveal the inner destruction of a family under whose surface is an institution of envy. It is a riveting film that despite its in excess of two-hour length keeps us riveted to our seats in its never-ending exploration of the darker side of familial machinations.
Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen) has escaped his Danish family and is comfortably ensconced in Stockholm as a successful restaurateur, living with the beautiful actress Maria (Lisa Werlinder) whose love for life extends beyond the fulfilling pleasures of the boudoir. Their bliss is interrupted by an unexpected visit from Chrisoffer's father who briefly spends time with the couple, happy for their state of success in all things. Upon his departure Christoffer receives a phone call that his father has hung himself and his presence is demanded in Denmark. Christoffer and Maria fly home to the matriarch of the family, Christoffer's mother Anneliese (the brilliant Ghita Norby) who immediately takes charge of the family, demands that Christoffer take over the failing family steel company thus skipping over Christoffer's designated brother-in-law Ulrick (Lars Brygmann), a fact that tears at Christoffer's sister Benedikte (Karina Skands). Taking the position of head of the family business would mean his giving up his dreams in Stockholm, negate Maria's burgeoning acting career, and placing Christoffer in the ominous position of having to fire longtime employees and make changes that would decimate many - not the least of which would be Christoffer's character. But Anneliese is strong and gets her way and thus the destruction of Christoffer's humanity and life begins.
Christoffer is able to merge the company with a French company and make the family business successful. But at what a cost? Maria leaves him after they have a child, Benedikte collides with him over his ruining her life with Ulrick, and Christoffer moves to France where he drowns his sorrows in alcohol. Per Fly is not one to tidy up all of the loose ends of a family disintegration: he leaves the end results of a bad decision up to the audience to figure out. It is this respect for the audience that endears this artist to us. The script is brilliantly written, the acting is superb, and the direction is tight and sensitive to the storyline. In every way this is a film worthy of our attention, not only as an art piece, but also as a means of re-examining 'family values' that here are presented in quite a different light than our usual reference phrase suggests. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, November 06