Written by: Matt Patti | May 21st, 2020
Inheritance (Vaughn Stein, 2020) 2½ out of 4 stars.
Going into this film, I was prepared for another movie where an old wealthy man dies and leaves his inheritance to an unlikely person, raising questions and mystery. There have been so many of those films lately, with last year’s Knives Out, and a recently released film that I also reviewed, Netflix’s Dangerous Lies. The mere title of this film suggested more of the same, and while such stories are intriguing, I was pleased to find that Inheritance is a very different kind of film, unlike those others.
Inheritance stars Lily Collins (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile) as Lauren Monroe, a fierce lawyer who is the daughter of a wealthy patriarch. The entire Monroe family is known for its wealth and power, but Lauren chose to choose her own path and become a public defender, against the wishes of her father. When her father suddenly dies, his will distributes money amongst the family. However, Lauren gets something else, as well: a message from her father, asking her to guard the family’s darkest secret – a secret that could destroy the Monroe family. This secret leads Lauren to uncover more secrets and soon she’s dealing with many skeletons in the closet. Can Lauren bear the burden of these secrets or will she allow them to destroy her and her entire family?
Before I continue with this review, I’d like to make a note: I strongly recommend not watching the trailer for this film before viewing it. I think, like many trailers these days, unfortunately, it gives away far too much. I intentionally left my description of the plot vague because I believe this film, as with most films, is best experienced with very minimal knowledge of the plot coming into it. There are many twists and turns throughout, and one of them comes near the end of the first act, which I refuse to spoil here.
Lily Collins gives a great performance. The film opens with a montage of her career as a lawyer, and while the barrage of quick scenes cut together catches one off guard so early in a film, it’s a great way to introduce her character and show her in action right off the bat. She is confident, unflinching and strong in her beliefs. Monroe is easy to get behind as a lead character even if she is a member of a wealthy and powerful family because, while most of her family came to power out of wealth and connections, she paved her own way to get where she is. The other performances in the film are also great, and almost every character is interesting and has some hidden secrets.
The plot leans on exposition quite a bit, and while that can be frustrating for some, I didn’t mind it too much here, as the stories that people tell and the facts that are uncovered by Lauren hold just enough interest. The subject of the most intrigue to me, however, is not the mystery; it is the moral dilemma that Lauren faces. Should she hide all the secrets she’s uncovering or should she tell someone? In the film she faces many tough choices where doing the right thing directly conflicts with protecting her family, and vice versa.
The film does unfortunately have a few issues and missed opportunities that weigh it down a bit. The plot is largely predictable at times, not necessarily in regard to the specific events that happen, but rather to its structure, when things may happen, and whether events will happen or not. There are a few twists in the film that feel like they need to happen and that I found myself anticipating. A missed opportunity that I think the film could capitalize on is the father character. The wealthy Archer Monroe (Patrick Warburton, Hoovey), the patriarch of the family, passes away very early in the film. Our opinion of him is reduced to only tiny flashbacks that Lauren has, and both Lauren and her mother explicitly state in the movie that he “was no saint.” I think that if I saw more of this character, or knew more about him, I might’ve been slightly more invested, and more shocked, when some secrets are revealed. However, knowing nothing about him except that he apparently was no saint, I found myself unimpressed and easily accepting the “shocking” secrets that Lauren digs up and reacts surprised to.
Overall, Inheritance is an interesting, timely, and thought-provoking thriller/drama (it’s difficult to describe the genre of the film, as it incorporates elements of a political thriller, drama, and chiller). The performances are all great and draw the viewer in, even in some exposition-heavy scenes. Some of the twists can be seen from a mile away, but some do genuinely catch the viewer off guard. The film has its issues but ultimately overcomes them to be an entertaining and satisfying thriller.