Arven/ Inheritance (2003) is the second chapter of a sociorealistic
trilogy, after Baenken/ The Bench that focused on the poor classes.
The film describes the cold and calculating attitude of the business people,
focusing on a man who is slowly driven to give up what he likes and accept
his business duties.
Christoffer is an entrepreneur who arrives at a luxury hotel in Stockholm.
His meeting has been canceled, but he nonetheless decides to stay one night,
and has his assistant call his wife that he won't be back until the following
Flashback to five years earlier. Christoffer watches a theatrical performance
and, at the end, visits a young gorgeous actress, Maria, backstage. They are
in love and he just proposed to her. They are surprised by a visit by
Christoffer's father, who only wants to say hello and refuses to stay a little
longer. Later, the phone rings and Christoffer learns that his father has
committed suicide. At the funeral, he learns from his mother that the family's
factory is deeply in debt. He meets his sister and her husband Ulrich, who has been
working with his father at the factory for many years and is supposed to
inherit the dead man's title. Someone has to tell the employees, and mother
thinks that it should be Christoffer. Mother and father's right-hand man, Nils,
want Christoffer to take over, not Ulrich. Maria doesn't want him to:
Christoffer's heart is just not into business, and they now live in Stockholm.
She has a career as an actress in front of her. But, when he sees hundreds
of workers at the factory listening to him, Christoffer changes his mind and
accepts. This offends both Maria, who was hoping to return to Stockholm right
away, and Ulrich, who wanted the dead man's job. Christoffer promises Maria
that he is going to work at the factory only for two years, enough time to
save it from bankruptcy and work out a merger with a French company.
At a hunting party, Mother invites Annika, Christoffer's old girlfriend and
a fresh divorcee. Ulrich starts rumours against Christoffer, hoping that the
bank will ask Christoffer to step down and be replaced by Ulrich. Instead,
Christoffer, advised by mother and Nils, fires Ulrich. Then the troika decides
to lay off dozens of workers. By mistake, his father's most faithful worker
is also included. Christoffer swears to him it was just a mistake and promises
to fix it, but Nils tells him it is just not possible to fix the mistake:
they can't admit mistakes.
Christoffer's sister is furious at him for firing her husband and swears never
to see him again. His wife Maria is disappointed that he forgot that she
is leaving for four months. Mother is cold and strong, totally indifferent
to all the family drama. She just wants the factory to survive, and she trusts
that Christoffer has the talent to succeed, whereas Ulrich was incompetent
and her dead husband was weak.
On a surprise visit to Stockholm, Christoffer sees Maria kiss another man.
Confronted, she admits that she slept with the friend, but only once and it
was a mistake. Christoffer is hurt, but forgives. Mother has other plans for
Christoffer: she invites Annika to dinner, and the old flame tries to
seduce Christoffer, but in vain. Maria has a child. The couple celebrates
the birth. Christoffer's sister comes, but mainly to beg her brother to
re-hire Ulrich, who is still unemployed. Christoffer just can't do that,
and humiliates his sister one more time. His mother is on his side.
Maria doesn't approve of their cruelty, but Christoffer refuses to discuss
business with her. The merger is proceeding well. They are close to make
an announcement. The faithful Nils, who is almost family,
has worked hard for the merger, but it turns out that
the French partners don't want him: Christoffer will have to lay him off the
moment the merger is announced. Christoffer does not blink. To placate
Maria, he decides to take two weeks of vacation in France after the merger
is announced. At the formal dinner, Maria hears that Christoffer promises
three more years of work. She gets up and leaves him. Christoffer, lonely
and drunk, almost rapes the maid. Mother finds him drunk and bleeding.
Christoffer re-hires Ulrich, thus healing the wound with his sister,
but lays off Nils as planned (telling him
coldly in his face that he doesn't need him anymore). His mother convinces
him to let Annika take over his private life.
Two years later, in Stockholm, Christoffer is staring at a window. It's the
apartment where Maria lives. (so she is not the wife who is waiting for him
back home). He sees her walk out with the child. He follows
her, talks to her, promises to watch her performance. Maria is happy.
Instead, he doesn't show up. She is not part of his life anymore, and