SXSW Film Review:


by Trish Connelly 

An intricately weaved collaboration between writer and director Laura E. Davis and Jessica Kaye, Inheritance is an introspective look into the underlying traumas embedded within families and the difficulty that remains in attempting to escape them. In anticipation of Mara (Jessica Kaye)’s father’s 70th birthday, she brings her recent boyfriend Aaron (Daniel Ahearn) to Belize to celebrate, but upon arriving quickly discovers that her father has passed away. A series of subtle yet significant fabrications spring forth once we figure out that Mara lies about how long she’s been together with Aaron as well as lying about calling her brother Ben (Mark Webber) about the death of their father. When Ben arrives, tensions build between him, Mara and Aaron, additionally signs of alcohol dependence and sexual frustration gradually build to a climax. As the night wears on, secrets start to unravel about Mara’s family’s past.


Set in Belize, Inheritance juxtaposes the country’s luscious and gorgeous landscape with a consistent tone of isolation and loneliness. What initially serves as unbridled passion in the scenes with Mara and Aaron’s budding romance soon reveal themselves to be desperate and foreboding. Sexual tension abounds with Mara’s relationship with Ben clearly not signifying one of ordinary siblings, marked by their unabashed freedom and aggressive swimming in the nude (with Aaron present). With the use of traditional percussive drums and ambience, Davis and Kaye use aural elements to their strength in creating an ominous air as more and more intimate secrets are exposed. Inheritance captures the brooding atmosphere to its success, however what seems to linger is the mood rather than a deeper portrayal of the character’s traumas and internal conflicts. At times the film feels disjointed in creating a sense of empathy for its characters, skirting just below the surface in regards to a more palpable and emotional connection to Mara and her family members. Regardless, Inheritance remains a solid work of art igniting the flame of tension and providing no easy solutions in the process of intricate familial trauma and recovery.


Trish Connelly is the Austin-based guru who does booking and promoting at Cheer Up Charlies under The Nothing Song. She’s always down to collaborate and plan a show or event in town. She’s an expert with mixtapes (for all musicians out there you’ll want to send her your stuff!), and making connections with the cool kids. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


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