Everything Christoffer does to save the business laying off hundreds of faithful workers, firing a betraying relative, isolating himself from the hugely sympathetic Maria and their child is perfectly logical, perhaps even necessary for the family and the firm's survival. It is impossible to say exactly when his stoicism becomes a perfect deadness of the soul. All we know is that one day, drunk and abandoned in a vacation villa, he savagely attempts to rape a maid. It is a measure of the film's acuity that that is not the end of Christoffer. When next we see him, he's wearing a suit and tie, entering into a loveless second marriage, allowing himself to be claustrophobically re-enfolded in his family's smothering embrace.
For director Per Fly, Christoffer is a victim, not a villain (the latter role is reserved for his manipulating mother, played by Ghita Norby), and Fly's film suggests that living badly is life's worst revenge. What might redeem The Inheritance's relentless grimness for the incorrigibly light-minded among us is the classic perfection of its imagery (it is full of gates constantly closing on its characters) and its impeccable acting. Werlinder, in particular, is a marvel shifting from playful to vulnerable to fierce in a matter of seconds as she wages a losing fight for her man. But the best thing about this movie is its sobriety about work. It is something our fictions, on page and screen, used to address regularly and now almost never do. But work is, after all, what most of us do most of the time, and any film that shows how it controls our emotional climate is nowadays a treasurable rarity especially when it is as good as this one.