Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Film review: The Inheritance



Last night we went to see an independent Scottish film called The Inheritance which apparently cost the sum total of £5000.  The 60 minutes we viewed were a very good use of such a small amount of money (well, in the film world it is small).  

The film is directed by Charles Henri Belleville and stars Tim Barrow and Fraser Sivewright as brothers David and Fraser who meet up after a 5-year absence following the death of their disappointment of a father and it follows their progress on a road trip in their father's VW camper van from Edinburgh to Skye, which they have to do with a mysterious key in hand in order to collect their inheritance.  Along the way the brothers attempt to reconnect, but can they manage it despite their antagonistic nature of their relationship?

The Inheritance was nominated Best UK Feature at Raindance last October and subsequently won the inaugral Raindance Award at the 2007 British Independent Film Awards, gained two nominations at the 2008 BAFTA Scotland New Talent Awards, and was nominated Best Debut UK Feature at London's East End Film Festival.

There are several reasons for this.  The film works on many levels.  The cinematography is amazing for the budget.  The landscape (Glencoe, Glenshee, Skye), filmed in snowy February, is stunning, and gives amazing light that makes the film look like it has had major tonal work applied, except that it is all natural.  The actors are superb with the rapport being very believable and the events that are portrayed are interesting in both a storytelling way as well as in a metaphorical sense.

And so, this is where there are spoilers, as the end is another strong point of the film being ambiguous and open to interpretation.  Towards the end of the journey the brothers pick up an attractive female hitch-hiker who falls for David and sleeps with him when they stay in a bothy one night.  However, on reaching Skye, she makes a move on Fraser and the next morning their camper van is gone.  Angered, David drags Fraser off on foot to the point where the inheritance is promised, but only to find a deserted graveyard.  Fraser mocks him, explaining that the road trip was their father's attempt to make them connect and that that was their inheritence.  In argument, David then reveals that their father had phoned him two weeks before his death also expressing this desire and telling him something.  The cocky Fraser then becomes the angered one and tries to force the extra information from David, accidentally throttling him in the process.

Part of the Q&A afterwards was taken up exploring the meaning of the ending, with suggestions including that David didn't actually sleep with the girl but knew she was their hidden sister and was angered when Fraser ruined this fresh familial link.  Now, after an evening to sleep on it and with Shane Meadow's Dead Man's Shoes somewhere in my head, here is what I think.  The story should not be delineated in the literal sense as it entirely wraps up only in the metaphorical.  The camper van (from the father) represents the containment of the brotherhood, with the road-trip being the finite time they have to sort it out (as applies to anyone with such a relationship).  The progress that is haltingly made is tested by the external force applied in the shape of the girl (if she even existed).  David has a connection with her, but Fraser supposedly being the more stable and confident brother sees his chance and takes it.  This proves that the brotherly connection is a weakness and not a strength to these two, and consequently the camper van is gone.  When there is nothing in the graveyard and Fraser mocks David, David drops the key (the 'key' to the road-trip and their last chance of a relationship).  From here, the balance shifts from one extreme to the other as Fraser realises David knows something and is angered by it, proving that although now cemented as destructive, their bond is still there, and Fraser sees it through, becoming horrified by what he has done.  In allusions to their upbringing, it is clear that both brothers were severely affected by an impossible-to-please alcoholic father and a quick-to-anger mother, and what played out on their road trip, what was shown to be a bond that was too poisoned to be positive, was in actual fact their true inheritance.

See this film, and continue the debate here!


 

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Andrew L. said...

"it entirely wraps up only in the metaphorical"
Hello?

28 July 2008 at 18:41  
Blogger George said...

I trust you agree...

29 July 2008 at 19:16  

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