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Review: Nimble thriller ‘Intrigo: Death of an Author’ can’t stick the landing

Translator and aspiring novelist Henry (Benno Fürmann), left, and famous author Henderson (Ben Kingsley) engage in a calculated game of cat and mouse in “Intrigo: Death of an Author.”
Translator and aspiring novelist Henry (Benno Fürmann), left, and famous author Henderson (Ben Kingsley) engage in a calculated game of cat and mouse in “Intrigo: Death of an Author.”
(Lionsgate)

Truth proves less reliable than fiction in “Intrigo: Death of an Author,” an undeniably intriguing, if not entirely satisfying Russian nesting doll of a noir-tinged thriller.

The first in a trilogy directed by Daniel Alfredson and culled from an anthology by acclaimed Swedish crime novelist Hakan Nesser, the international co-production’s twisty plot mechanism clicks into gear when an enigmatic visitor (Benno Fürmann) turns up on a remote Greek island occupied by a reclusive writer (Ben Kingsley).

Although Furmann’s Henry ostensibly seeks input from cranky Alex Henderson for a narrative about a literary translator who plots the murder of his pregnant wife after she announces she’s leaving him for her therapist, it soon becomes apparent that both men have ulterior motives for the meeting.

To his credit, Alfredson, who also directed two installments of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy,” establishes a murkily foreboding atmosphere that sets the stage for the sort of dark impulses that would have been right at home in a Patricia Highsmith book.

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But while German actor Fürmann and especially Kingsley engage in a nimbly calculated game of cat and mouse, the film’s coup de grace fails to land with the intended punch.

Perhaps when it comes to intricately strategized stories involving writers and their output, their telling would ultimately have been better served by the reader’s imagination.

‘Intrigo: Death of an Author’
Rated: R, for language and some sexual content

Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Playing: Starts Jan. 17, Laemmle Glendale 5; also on VOD


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