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LAST WILL

SYNOPSIS:
While covering the annual Nobel Banquet for Swedish tabloid Kvällspressen, crime reporter Annika Bengtzon (Malin Crepin) witnesses a murder in which two people are shot, one of them the controversial Laureate in Medicine, Aaron Wiesel. The German terrorist group Neue Jihad admits responsibility for the murder, but Annika becomes increasingly convinced that the real target of the attack is Wiesel's dancing partner Caroline von Behring (Anna von Rosen), Chairman of the Nobel Committee. Annika's journalistic investigation leads her closer and closer to the inner workings and power struggle within the closed and secretive circle of the Nobel Committee. As she gets closer to the truth and to getting her story, the situation becomes increasingly dangerous.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The occasionally Meg Ryan-ish Malin Crepin does a good job as the determined reporter Annika, tracking down the real story behind a bold assassination at the dinner for the medical Nobel Prize in Stockholm, given to Jewish stem-cell research scientist. The plot is as bold as the killing, but a tad less successful. It begins with promise but soon trips in what seems an obvious oversight: a terrorist group claims responsibility (some suggest because of the work and the recipient is Jewish) but this is ignored in favour of Annika's hunch that it's something else entirely. And her hunch is based on nothing more than the dying woman might have been mouthing something to her before she died.

Although there is nothing original in either the structure or the way the story pans out, Last Will maintains interest through excellent performances and the clarity of the storyline. Per Graffman is memorable as Bernhard Thorell of Medi-Tech, whose interest in Annika is unnerving for various reasons, and whose role in the plot is critical. Maria Langhammer is wonderfully real as Brigitta Larsen, a colleague of the victim with her own secrets, and Bjorn Granath makes an impact as the suspiciously brittle Ernst Ericsson, a Nobel Board member who doesn't like the way things have gone with the iconic and valuable prizes.

The basic concept (and the resolution) stretches credibility but the film's adherence to genre conventions keeps it going, despite an unresolved issue with Annika's private life, which is inserted like an afterthought and has no real function dramatically.

The images are technically proficient and the score is predictable but effective and the editing has a dynamic rhythm. For all its strengths, it feels like a B movie or a telemovie with cinematic hopes, thanks to its weaknesses.

Review by Louise Keller:
A gala ball is the setting for the shooting in this engrossing Swedish thriller involving controversial stem cell research, an unchallengeable will, an ambitious chairperson and a glamour puss killer with a wiggle. In the mould of Meg Ryan, Malin Crépin as journalist Annika Bengtzon is a charismatic protagonist who happens to be on the spot when the shooting occurs and becomes amateur sleuth as she follows the leads. Set in the dead of winter in Stockholm, the snowy exterior shots create an atmospheric and chilly setting, the clock-like rhythms of the music score bring a sense of urgency while a string of red herrings pave the way.

It is by chance that Annika is asked to cover the Nobel Ball, after the announcement of the recipient Aaron Wiesel (Jackie Jakubowski), whose stem cell research has been awarded the prestigious annual prize. It is also by chance that she happens to be on the dance floor, on the insistence of Bernhard Thorell (Per Graffman), a charming stranger, offering her a bird's eye view of the dark-haired woman whose eyes match her sequined gown and who fumbles in her evening purse as she wiggles away from the crime scene in which Wiesel is injured and Nobel Assembly Chair, Caroline von Behring (Anna von Rosen) is killed.

Dismayed that as a key witness to the crime she has been gagged from writing her front page story, Annika turns her attentions to Caroline, believing that she, not the Nobel recipient may have been the target of the killer. Based on a novel by Liza Marklund, Pernilla Oljelund's screenplay is nicely handled by director Peter Flinth, who makes the most of every tension-creating incident.

Each character we meet falls under suspicion as the questions begin to mount. What does Caroline's assistant Birgitta Larsén (Maria Langhammer) know? Is Bernhard Thorell's interest more than professional? And what is the involvement of the lab's Johan Isaksson (Karl Linnertorp)? Could the clearly ambitious Ernst Ericsson (Björn Granath) have anything to do with the murder or might Sören Hammarsten (Johan Holmberg), the favoured replacement to the top job be involved? Annika is surrounded by tension - even at home there is conflict when the son of her new neighbours purposely hurts her young son.

I was intrigued by this film from the outset; my attention held throughout by its attractive protagonist and led through the winding pathways of the narrative to its chilling and thrilling conclusion. Recommended.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

LAST WILL (M)
(Sweden, 2012)

Nobels testamente

CAST: Malin Crepin, Richard Ulfsater, Per Graffman, Bjorn Kellman, Leif Andree, Erik Johansson, Kajsa Ernst, Felix Engstrom, Bjorn Granath, Antie Traue

PRODUCER: Jenny Gilbertsson

DIRECTOR: Peter Flinth

SCRIPT: Pernilla Oljelund (novel by Liza Marklund)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Kress

EDITOR: Soren B. Ebbe

MUSIC: Adam Norden

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bengt Froderberg, Pia Wallin

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney (Collaroy, Cinema Paris) & ACT (GU Manuka): September 20, 2012 (elsewhere later in 2012)







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