Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ben Kingsley, Benno Fürmann, Tuva Novotny, Michael Byrne, Veronica Ferres, Daniela Lavender, Tor Clark, David Lowe, Jason Riddington, Sandra Dickinson
Written by: Daniel Alfredson, Birgitta Bongenhielm, based on a novel by Håkan Nesser
Directed by: Daniel Alfredson
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content
Running Time: 106
Date: 05/08/2020

Intrigo: Death of an Author (2020)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Intrigue Fatigue

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Slow-moving, convoluted, and rather chilly, this mystery, from a novel by Swedish author Hakan Nesser, has the right ingredients, but it feels frequently disconnected, and it doesn't completely click.

In Intrigo: Death of an Author, a man called Harry (Benno Furmann) visits the remote island retreat of successful author Henderson (Ben Kingsley). Harry is working on a book and wants Henderson's advice. He begins the story about a man, Daniel (Furmann), whose wife Eva (Tuva Novotny) suddenly leaves him for another man. He arranges to kill her, making it look like an auto accident.

She disappears and her body is never found. Meanwhile, he gets a job translating the final work by a famous author, Rein, who might have committed suicide. On the radio, during a concert, he hears a cough and becomes convinced that his wife is alive. He begins searching for her, and at the same time, begins discovering odd clues in Rein's manuscript, which could bring everything full circle.

Intrigo: Death of an Author is the first part of a trilogy, all based on works by Nesser, all murder stories of a kind, and all with at least one scene set at the "Intrigo" cafe. Some mysteries are written backwards, with the conclusion in place, and then moving through the solution to the setup, and certainly this movie had its ending figured out, but it can't work out a beginning that seems logical.

For a long time, very little the characters do makes any sense, from Harry's reason for visiting Henderson, to Daniel and Eva remaining on vacation together, even after they break up. The actors also seem a little lost when it comes to expressing how much they know or are supposed to know, and they all seem a little blank (except Kingsley, who chews some pretty good scenery).

Director Daniel Alfredson, who made the second and third parts of the original smash hit Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, provides plenty of exotic backdrops, from sun-dappled verandas to gorgeous hotel rooms. But the characters move through them at such a sleepy pace, that Intrigo: Death of an Author seems more like postcards than a movie.

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