Intrigo: Death of an Author

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Intrigo: Death of an Author Movie Poster Image
Ineffective book-based murder mystery has sex, language.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 106 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Murder and lying are shown as a matter-of-fact way of life, with very little concern or consequences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All of the characters behave in either rude or despicable ways or are outright criminals.

Violence

Slo-mo sequence of car going out of control, with car and driver falling over a cliff. A secondary character is said to have died via suicide; a suggestive flashback shows (possibly) someone jumping out of a boat, tied to a weight. Explosion. Description of someone dying via suicide by "sticking a pencil into her eye." Another person tries to do the same but fails.

Sex

Graphic sex scene: No explicit nudity, but thrusting and grunting. A man has a dream that women are flirting with him. A man wakes up with a strange woman in his bed. Character leaves spouse for a lover. Married character admits that he's "had other women." Sex talk.

Language

Several uses of "f--k," plus "bulls--t," "bitch," "crap," "semen," and exclamatory use of "Christ."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character narrates at one point that he's been indulging in too many pills and too much liquor. (He decides to stop.) Character gulps down glasses of whiskey, wakes up hung over. Many scenes of social drinking. Cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Intrigo: Death of an Author is the first movie in a trilogy of thrillers based on novels by Swedish author Hakan Nesser (the others are Intrigo: Dear Agnes and Intrigo: Samaria). It focuses on a man who tries to kill his wife and then discovers that she may still be alive. Violent scenes include murder sequences, a car going out of control and falling over a cliff in slow motion, an explosion, potential suicide, and descriptions of violence. Language includes several uses of "f--k," and uses of "bulls--t," "bitch," and more. A graphic sex scene shows thrusting and moaning, though there's no explicit nudity. A man wakes up with a strange woman in his bed, and there's sex talk and discussions about married people having other partners. The narrator mentions taking too many pills and drinking too much. He gulps glasses of whiskey, and lots of social drinking is shown, as well as cigarette smoking. Ben Kingsley co-stars.

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What's the story?

In INTRIGO: DEATH OF AN AUTHOR, a man named 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 his story about Daniel (Furmann), whose wife, Eva (Tuva Novotny), suddenly leaves him for another man. Daniel 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 of a famous author, Rein, who might have died via suicide. On the radio, during a concert, Daniel hears a cough and becomes convinced that his wife is alive. He starts searching for her -- and, at the same time, discovers odd clues in Rein's manuscript, which could bring everything full circle.

Is it any good?

Slow-moving, convoluted, and chilly, this mystery (based on a novel by Swedish author Hakan Nesser) has the right ingredients, but it frequently feels disconnected, and it doesn't completely click. 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 backward, with the conclusion in place, and then move through the solution to the setup. 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's 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 also 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 feels more like postcards than a movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Intrigo: Death of an Author's violence. What's shown, and what's merely suggested or talked about? Are there consequences for committing acts of violence?

  • How is drinking depicted? Is it glamorized? What does the main character do when he realizes he's drinking too much (and taking too many pills)?

  • How is sex depicted? What values are imparted?

  • What's appealing about murder stories? Why do you think so many good mysteries revolve around acts of violence?

  • How does this movie compare to the other two in the trilogy? How do they differ? How do they complement each other?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

Themes & Topics

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