The Inheritors

Writer-director Stefan Ruzowitzky’s blackly witty and moving story about seven peasants in 1930s Austria who inherit a farm after the misanthropic landowner is murdered looks tranquil and beautiful, with shots composed like utopian nature paintings or superior WPA photographs. But the rueful parable The Inheritors — an award-winning, knife-sharp study in class warfare played out among cows and haystacks — is anything but idyllic. The dead man bequeathed his property in a final gesture of malevolence, hoping the ignorant gaggle would destroy one another with infighting; instead, they form an unusual but successful family, united against the resentful higher-class neighbors gunning for their downfall. Simon Schwarz conveys optimism and openness as Lukas, a foundling with ties to the place even he doesn’t know about; Sophie Rois is thrilling as a strong, sexually free, innately independent-minded farmhand utterly in touch with her every emotion. Spare piano music by Erik Satie fits the landscape neatly. B+

The Inheritors
  • Movie