Evil (Ondskan) Reviews
The violence which erupts in the schools shows how mean kids can be, but raises the question of why they are mean in the first place.
The main character Erik is expelled from school for lashing out at anyone who he feels to be in his way, and is sent to a prestigious private school where the students may just have more control than the teachers, and run with a rigorous, unjust code that makes sense only to those who run with it.
Erik(Andreas Wilson) is faced with the choice of facing up to the madness at school for himself and his friends, or to fall back into the "home" life he fled from.
"Ondskan" is a stunning movie about adolescent behaviour, a study on how cruelty leads to violence. The themes in the movie, although set in mid 20th century Sweden, are relevant of the world today. School violence and disturbing behaviour of children are on the rise.
Mikael Håfström, now making a career in Hollywood, did an almost perfect film. The violence is more mental and is more felt than seen but some scenes are pretty disturbing.
"Ondskan" has some clichés and a somewhat of a fairy tale ending. But simply put the acting, especially Andras Wilson's, takes "Ondskan" to a higher level than most similar films. A very compelling film.
"Evil" is a technically well-made movie but it is also tedious, contrived and full of two-dimensional characters. It does not say anything new about bullies that has not been said hundreds of times before and the "Rebel without a Cause" reference is a tad obvious. Look, we all know that children learn how to be cruel from their elders and that evil flourishes when good people do nothing to stop it. And if Erik is so desperate to graduate, then why does he act the way he does?
The first half of the film is, on the other hand, very good. The writing is very pedestrian, but the performances are up to the task. The strongest portions are spent exploring life at the boarding school. Teachers (one of them a former nazi) do not hit the students, rather the students police themselves. It is slowly revealed just how sick this system is, how it escentially revenge as official policy, and sadism as authority. The enviroment, so peaceful on the surface, is complicated evey more by the presence of jewish stuents (a relatively new occurrance after WW2, and not entirely well looked at by a german teacher), noblemen and "common" rich students. It is not explicitly stated, but much of what happens in the film is the result of tension stemming class relations, propriety and traditional roles.
The romance has no place in the film, and its sole reason for existing is to provide the script's author with an out later on in the film. The fact that the woman in question is a servant at the school, and Finnish, adds to the class relations boiling pot, but does so in the most basic of manners. Her character could have been cut out and the film would have been the better for it.
What ultimately prevents the film from taking off is its confused morals. Despite its political overtones and somewhat allegorical nature, it is not sure what exactly it is trying to say so it swings, ambivalently, from one end of the spectrum to the other hoping to please everyone. Compromising in this fashion is cowardly, but the first half of the film is so strong is bears watching anyway.
This movie was quite amusing with it's entreating story. Definitely an interesting film to watch as it is precisely engaging and welly holds your interest throughout the film. As well as entertaining, this film was gripping, and likable. Good performances are mentionable as well. Nonetheless, this film was very decent. The take on the story, again, is wielded great. An awesome Swedish film.