Review: ‘Inheritance’

Freudian drama runs amok in "Inheritance," a distinctly odd-duck work from long-time exiled Polish helmer Edward Porembny, who returns to his home country but still works mainly in English. An intriguing introduction that explores exile themes which are close to Porembny's heart gives way to a sticky situation that lands pic in a swamp of crude plot points and psychological complications. Future commercial prospects look dim.

Freudian drama runs amok in “Inheritance,” a distinctly odd-duck work from long-time exiled Polish helmer Edward Porembny, who returns to his home country but still works mainly in English. An intriguing introduction that explores exile themes which are close to Porembny’s heart gives way to a sticky situation that lands pic in a swamp of crude plot points and psychological complications. Future commercial prospects look dim.

Ex-journalist Krister’s (Tomas Norstrom) plight is described in voiceover and shown in a tiny black-and-white image accompanying the opening credit roll, leaving impression that we’re about to see a Beckett-influenced study in Scandinavian anomie. Instead, Krister, a divorcee who lives alone on a small Swedish island where he makes a meager living building boats, learns that he’s inherited a family cottage in his native Poland.

Krister doesn’t speak Polish, so must converse in English when he arrives in Warsaw. He’s aided by old school pal Grzegorz (Krzysztof Kolberger), now a successful eye doctor and — to Krister’s quiet surprise — gay.

This returning native gets several indicators that this isn’t his father’s Poland anymore: Dad’s old butcher shop is now a sex emporium, he gets mugged outside his old aunt’s flat, and he receives lasik surgery care of Grzegorz.

Grzegorz introduces Krister to Ewa (Ana Powiera), a friend and nurse who Grzegorz learns is Krister’s birth daughter. For no clear reason, nobody informs Krister of this crucial fact, and Krister pursues an amorous fling with the pretty Ewa, whose photo happens to appear in the sex mag he uses for masturbation sessions.

Something along the lines of Paul Schrader’s “Hard Core” ensues, with father rescuing daughter from the evil pornographers and seemingly finding peace at the family cottage. But no one in this cast can get over pic’s implausible storytelling bumps, which continue all the way to the risible finish.

Pic’s title is English-only, despite dialogue that’s at least one-third in Polish. Closing credits include two jarring elements: First, an incongruously upbeat tune from top Polish jazzman Michal Urbaniak; second, a note that events have been fictional, contradicting an opening credit citation that script is “based on a true story.”

Inheritance

Poland - U.K.

Production

An Arcadia Moving Pictures, Blue Sky Motion Pictures, Audley Films Prods., Polish Television, AMP Polska presentation. (International sales: MDC Intl. GmbH, Berlin.) Produced by Edward Porembny, Tim Gummer. Executive producers, Steven C. Wilkinson, Andrew Heslop, Chris Cave, Paul White. Co-producers, Jerzy Kapuscinsky, Andrzej Serdjukow. Directed by Edward Porembny. Screenplay, Andrew Hislop, Delphine Dewulf; story, Porembny.

Crew

Camera (color/ B&W), Kamil Krol; editor, Ewa Smal ; music, Przemek Myszor, Wojciech Powaga; production designer, Nobel Nobielski; sound, Marek Bobowski. Reviewed on videocassette, Los Angeles, May 27, 2005. (In Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles.) Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Tomas Norstrom, Krzysztof Kolberger, Ana Powiera, Maciej Kowalowski. (Polish, English, Swedish dialogue)
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