15 February 2012 | johno-21
Like An Oak, The Film Is Strong
I saw this at the 2012 Palm Springs International Film Festival where the film's director Lisa Ohlin was on hand at my screening for an audience Q&A following the film. Adapted for the screen by Marnie Blok from the popular novel by Marianne Fredriksson, it is the story of Simon Larsson,(played as a boy by Jonatan S. Wächter and as a young man by Bill Skarsgård) who is being raised by an aunt and uncle (Helen Sjöholm as Karin Larsson and Stefan Gödicke as Erik Larsson) who he thinks are his real parents. It takes place in Sweden and begins in 1939 at the outbreak of WWII in Europe. Young Simon goes off to a prestigious school where he befriends Isak Lentov (played as a boy by Karl Martin Eriksson and as a young man by Karl Linnertorp). Isak is Jewish and antisemitism has spilled over into Sweden so he is somewhat of an outcast at school except for his new friend Simon. Simon is from a rural working class background and Isak is the city bred son of a wealthy bookseller and their lives are woven together through WWII and beyond in this tender drama as Simon confronts family and society in a search for who he is. An excellent performance as the loving mother by the popular Swedish singer Sjöholm who is making her first screen role since 2004's "As It Is In Heaven" in which she gave another great performance in a supporting role. I don't know what took her so long to return to the screen but she should have been making more movies. Gödicke is very good too as the tough love father. Excellent production and art design by Anders Engelbrecht and Lena Selander. The film is also looks good thanks to cinematographer Dan Lausten and costumer Katja Watkins. Annette Focks scores some beautiful music and Jason Luke give the film great sound. A great supporting cast with many interesting characters. I would give this an 9.0 out of 10 and recommend it.