Directed by Per Fly, starring Ulrich Thomsen, Lisa Werlinder, Ghita Norby, Lars Brygmann, Karina Skands and Peter Steen. Opens 31 December.

'Inheritance' is an utterly compelling tale of the torturous transformation of a man from a relaxed restaurateur into a hard-faced ruthless businessman.

When we are introduced to Christoffer (Thomsen), he and his gorgeous actress wife Maria (Werlinder) are living an idyllic life in Stockholm. He is looking after a medium-sized restaurant while she pursues her Shakespearean stage career. Their lives are turned upside down, however, when Christoffer's father commits suicide. As the only son, Christoffer is then expected to return to Denmark to take over the reins of the family iron company he had previously left, in order to save it from ruin after his father allowed things to slide.

Against her better judgement, but for the sake of the marriage, Maria decides to come back with him. Unfortunately, the relationship suffers badly as the sheer magnitude of the responsibility he holds is too much to bear for her increasingly isolated and distant husband.

This is the second instalment of director Per Fly's three-part look at the different social classes in Denmark. His first offering, 'The Bench', which was set amongst the working class, won numerous awards. Watching this movie would certainly encourage one to make a point of viewing the other two.

Thomsen is eerily epic as the husband, father, son, brother, friend and owner whose loyalties are as deeply divided as North and South Korea. He develops the character magnificently and manages to illustrate vividly the hopelessness of Christoffer's position.

The other performances are also excellent but can be attributed, in part at least, to the taut script, which runs seamlessly through the five-year span that the story is set over.

Subtitled movies are not everyone's carton of juice, but you become so engrossed in this brilliant effort that you soon forget that it is a foreign film, which speaks volumes for its quality. And in any case, the international body language of despair and deprecation needs no translating, although if it did it would be difficult to match the fluency of Thomsen's performance here.

Séamus Leonard