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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Inheritance
The Inheritance
Home Vision Entertainment // Unrated // June 7, 2005
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted June 23, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The movie

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 DVD

Video

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 optional.

Audio

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.

Extras

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.

Final thoughts

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.

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