Daniel Alfredson has already filmed two films in the “Millennium” trilogy. With INTRIGO – DEATH OF AN AUTHOR The adaptation of another three-part series is now underway, this time not by Stig Larsson, but by his compatriot Håkan Nesser. We’ll reveal more about the start in our review.
The Plot Summary
A cough, not just any cough, Eva’s cough. Unmistakable among thousands, millions. He is sure he hears her – at the end of a radio concert recording, even though Eva (Tuva Novotny) disappeared three years ago and was declared dead. But what if Eva is still alive? While David (Benno Fürmann) processes the mysterious experiences in a novel and seeks support from the author Henderson (Sir Ben Kingsley) in his house by the sea, he comes across hidden clues in the manuscript of the famous writer Germund Rein. David was commissioned to translate Rein’s latest work. Enclosed is a letter stating that under no circumstances should the manuscript be published in the original language. At the same time, David learns that Rein has mysteriously taken his own life – the manuscript and letter are his legacy. But what connection is there between Eva’s disappearance and Rein’s mysterious death? Why is Henderson always one step ahead of David? Fiction and reality intertwine ever deeper until a dark secret is revealed that turns everything previously believed on its head.
Movie explanation of the ending
Fans of Scandinavian crime fiction will of course be familiar with the name Håkan Nesser. The Swedish native is one of the most influential in his profession alongside Stig Larsson and Henning Mankell. Many of his novels regularly climb the bestseller lists in this country. USA-Swedish film adaptations have also been broadcast several times on ARD. However, Nesser’s productions, which were created with far less financial resources, never achieved the level of fame that the “Millennium Series” enjoyed. Maybe that will change now with the first major cinema trilogy based on his works. Under the title “Intrigo”, parts two and three of which, “Samaria” and “Dear Agnes”, have long been in production and are also due to be released in cinemas in the coming months, there is a classic and, at least on paper, pretty dark crime story with a top cast to the cinemas. Daniel Alfredson, an expert in the field of Scandinavian crime, is behind the camera. Among other things, he made the films “Damnation” and “Forgiveness” from the world-famous “Millennium Trilogy”. In the predominantly English-language, US-USA-Swedish co-production, Benno Fürmann, in the role of an author, tells a literary expert, played by Sir Ben Kingsley, about his idea for a novel that has more to do with himself than it initially seems . The foundation for a classic cinematic confusion has been laid. The end result is solid.
David (Benno Fürmann) reflects on his relationship with his wife Ewa (Tuva Novotny).
The special thing about “Intrigo: Death of an Author” is, first and foremost, its intertwined narrative style. The script by Daniel Alfredson and his co-author Brigitta Bongenhielm jumps again and again (“The Patchwork Family”) back and forth between two different time levels: on the one hand there is the plot in which David Moerk reads from his book to the mysterious Henderson and on the other hand we see the same novel plot as a kind of “film within a film” in which the main character is also played by Benno Führmann. Little by little, the viewer begins to realize that the events in the book are also about Moerk’s past. The extent to which the whole thing has to do with the death of the author Germund Rein, let alone with Moerk’s visit to the island, makes “Death of an Author” a film that works according to the classic “whodunit” principle. It’s not about the question of any killer, but figuring out the all-encompassing resolution at the end is still so much fun that the start of the “Intrigo” trilogy is incredibly exciting in many moments. Even if you first have to get used to the fact that some strange directorial decisions were made here.
One such thing is the matter of language: “Death of an Author” was shot entirely in English. Even in USA locations, every character speaks English, which is not least due to the content of the translation. Of course, “Intrigo” is much easier to market internationally this way, but if Moerk is required to translate the script and recite this version to his English-speaking counterpart, then he has to apply that to everything. This seems to take some getting used to here and there (“Under USA Beds” star Veronica Ferres unfortunately doesn’t even come close to what she normally achieves as an actress in English), but it actually has a deeper meaning. However, this cannot be attributed to the sometimes cheap-looking production. The largely overlit images give the whole thing a touch of public television, which is a disadvantage, especially on the big screen. “Death of an Author” would actually be predestined for the typically dark Scandinavian look of its many genre colleagues.
Isolated author Henderson (Ben Kingsley) listens to David’s story.
As far as the resolution is concerned, you can safely say that there is a 50/50 chance here when it comes to whether you get past the resolution prematurely or not. Some may see it coming and will therefore be surprised by everything else when the script actually develops in the most obvious direction in the end. For others, perhaps especially for those who are not yet very experienced in the thriller and crime genre, the final twist could be like a bang. In the case of the former, to ensure that you remain enthralled until the end, the actors make every effort to captivate you with their performance. Of all people, a veteran like Ben Kingsley succeeds in this (“Ender’s Game – The Big Game”) unfortunately only to a limited extent, who acts surprisingly bored here, but doesn’t get much to do to show what he can do. Benno Führmann (“Volt”) however, forms the heart of the film. And slowly drifting into madness with him is a lot of fun over the hour and a half. Meanwhile, Tuva Novotny turns out to be a scene stealer (“extinction”) in the impenetrable role of the mysterious Ewa. In the end, the most exciting thing is not to get behind the resolution of the big picture, but rather to discover the narrative details on the sidelines. Who is the mysterious pursuer who keeps appearing? What’s with the radio recording where you can hear the coughing of a deceased person? And what really happened and what was just an illusion? Deciphering all of these questions is ultimately more fun than the crime plot itself, the resolution of which, regardless of whether the twist works or not, unfortunately remains quite low in tension.
Conclusion: “Intrigo – Death of an Author” lays a solid foundation for a crime trilogy that still has room for improvement, especially in terms of staging. The criminal case is quite exciting with its twists and turns and the resolution, which will certainly surprise some. But visually the film fits more into television and Ben Kingsley also seemed more committed.
“Intrigo – Death of an Author” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 25th.