The Inheritance is one of
those artistic films that's beloved by a certain particular audience
who's on the same wavelength as the director... and unappreciated by
those who aren't. As you might guess from this opening, I found
myself squarely in the latter category. Despite the enthusiastic
appreciative essay included with the DVD (which, to me, almost smacks
of trying to convince the audience ahead of time that this is a great
film), I'm willing to bet that most viewers will find The
Inheritance leaving them cold.
The Inheritance tells the
story of Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen), a happily married and
professionally successful man whose life is slowly destroyed when he
inherits the family business. It's a character study, but it fails
miserably in the one key element that any character study must have:
a character that the audience is interested in. Whether we like the
main character or not is irrelevant, as long as we're interested in
him and what he's going through. In the case of The Inheritance,
though, Christoffer remains a bland, blank figure throughout the
film. Tormented inwardly, suffering stoically? Perhaps. But the film
itself gives us little to hang on to.
The opening scenes are a perfect
interest-killer. We see an unknown man arriving at a hotel and
wandering around his room; we see him sitting in a park looking up at
a window. Why should we care? There's no story advancing here, since
we know nothing about this figure, and there's no indication that
we're being set up for something interesting, either. When the film
switches to a flashback of the same man, much more cheerful and
surrounded by friends, it's clear that we're supposed to wonder how
he got to that point of sitting around in the park being depressed...
but that initial scene has so little spark of its own that there's
little reason to actually care.
The inclusion of a steamy sex scene
at about eight minutes into the film also, to my mind, smacks of
desperation. Look! There are good things in this film! There might be
more naked or partially naked women! Sorry, but a lengthy sex scene
between two characters whom I don't know anything about and have no
reason to be interested in, does not make me interested in the film.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
If by some fluke you're actually
interested in the character of Christoffer and what happens to him,
then The Inheritance may have some modest redeeming value as a
character study. It's an oddly depressing and pointless one, though.
The Inheritance is presented
in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is
anamorphically enhanced. For a 2003 film, it looks rather bland.
Colors are muted, though natural-looking, the image is somewhat
grainy, and edge enhancement is apparent. The English subtitles are
Danish 5.1 and 2.0 soundtracks are
included. There's little use of the surround channels in this fairly
dialogue-centered film, and the overall sound is rather flat. English
subtitles are provided as an option.
The special features here are fairly
substantial. A 55-minute "making of" documentary takes a
detailed look at the making of the film, including sections on
improvisation, the music of the film, the locations, and camera work.
It's sure to be of interest to those who enjoyed the film. A
director's audio commentary is also included. It's in Danish with
English subtitles; while it's playing, the subtitles for the
commentary replace those for the film's dialogue. The audio
commentary is only available from the special features menu,
not on the fly from the audio selections.
A paper insert with an appreciative
essay from Richard Schickel is also included.
Evidently The Inheritance has
received some critical acclaim, but despite my willingness to try out
something new, and my enthusiasm for intelligent and thoughtful
filmmaking, it completely failed to interest me. The film is so
understated that it never bothers to try to hook the viewer, and I
never felt even the least bit interested in the psychological
struggle of its protagonist. The DVD transfer is reasonable, if not
particularly impressive, and there are some nice special features,
but they're obviously only worth watching if you liked the film. As a
general recommendation, I'd say to skip it.