2 February 2012 | rven3
You'll hold your breath for the whole 113 minutes
I have lately been trawling through Swedish movies, in an effort to watch as many as I can. I have not yet come across one that I didn't at least appreciate. The Scandinavians are remarkable story-tellers, and can teach the rest of the world a thing or two about good story-telling in film. What surprises me the most is why it is the rest of the world does not know about and applaud this film. As an examination of bullying and abuse it is extraordinary.
"Ondskan" is the story of one teenage boy's experiences of bullying - both as a perpetrator and also from the receiving end - firstly at the hands of his bitter & twisted stepfather, then in the school-yard at his high school, and lastly at an exclusive boarding school to which he is sent by his mother. It is a highly charged movie, and will be too much for some more sensitive viewers, but tells a very important story of how it is bullying is perpetrated, justified, institutionalised, and then passed on so that the behaviour continues.
There is little to place this story in an historical context other than the music and the rather odd dress of the late 1950's. The culture of the school to which Erik Ponti is sent is one in which the members of the Council - the Boss Boys - ritually bully the younger boys, and the school staff turn a blind eye. To fight back by striking a Council member is to invite expulsion, and Erik cannot risk this. Andreas Wilson has a strong presence, and is believable as Erik, and Henrik Lundstrom, who plays the sensitive Pierre, is worthy of mention also. I came across this movie because I was searching for movies featuring Gustaf Skarsgard. In "Ondskan" Skarsgard plays the student we all want to hate - the top bully - and he does it well. Later in the movie we are given a brief insight into what drives him, and the degree of pain he experiences on a daily basis. Great writing!!
The only real gripe I had while watching this film was the swimming style of Erik's character. He was meant to be a top swimmer, and yet while doing freestyle his arms barely managed to get out of the water. With a swimming stroke like that he'd never make it to be top swimmer at any school. Picky, I know, but it bothered me.
If I could give this film 12 stars I would.