Movie Review: ‘Kennedy’s Brain’

John Thomas

Two journalists are enjoying a beer at a beach bar in Mozambique. The Swedish journalist Henrik Cantor (Andreas Wilson), is meeting with his counterpart, Nuno (Emile M’bo), to reveal a horrific discovery he’s just made.

A tipsy stranger approaches their table and insists on purchasing Henrik’s hat. Both Henrik and Nuno are puzzled by the request – Henrik finally relents and gives the man his hat. Moments later, wearing his new hat, the stranger wanders into the street and is struck and killed by a speeding car.

Nuno rushes to the man’s side. Henrik, sensing danger to himself, flees in the opposite direction and eventually to his home in Sweden. The driver of the car has a long scar on his face.

Louise Cantor (Iris Berben) has also just returned to Sweden, she from an archeology dig in Greece. Louise calls her son Henrik, suggesting they dine together – she’ll bring the food and cook at his place.

Her knock at his door is unanswered, so using her key she enters. She finds Henrik lying dead on his bed. After hearing of Henrik’s history of sleeping pills and the autopsy report revealing he was HIV positive, the police close the case – suicide. Knowing her son, Louise rules out suicide and, after going though his possessions, decides he might have been murdered.

Among his possessions is a letter from the estranged husband/father, Aron Cantor (Christopher Mallory). After abandoning them years earlier, Aron created a mass fortune and disappeared. Henrik’s letter from Aron reveals his present location, which is where Louise then heads. Louise is there to inform him of their son’s death and to say she is heading to South Africa to investigate. Reluctantly she accepts Aron’s offer to accompany her.

Once there they begin to fit pieces of the puzzle together; one being Henrik’s investigation and work at a charity funded hospital in rural Mozambique. The hospital’s focus is identifying and treating AIDS victims.

Louise has also found a photograph of a young woman at an amusement park in Mozambique – presumably her son’s girlfriend. Aron and Louise leave for Mozambique. Once there, they arrange to meet later that afternoon. Louise sets out in a taxi for the park. Instead of being taken to the park, she is beaten and dumped in a vacant lot. A man with a long scar on this face watches the beating from a distant car.

Aron later sees Louise sitting at the cafe where they’d planned to meet. Just before reaching the cafe, Aron is tapped on the shoulder. He turns to see a man with a long scar on his face staring at him.

Aron fails to so show up for their meeting, so Louise goes to the police to file a missing person’s report. They are not too interested in her case as reports of lost people are quite common in Mozambique. Reluctantly, however, they agree to take her to the morgue to see if his body might be there.

All the bodies in the morgue are black except for the one in the bottom drawer of the last row – Aron.

Directed by Urs Egger (Credits: Shillings from Heaven, Child on the Open Road), “Kennedy’s Brain “is a two episode series based on the book of the same name by the Swedish author Henning Mankell. 

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