Simon and the Oaks (2012)
An epic drama spanning the years 1939 to 1952, this is the gripping story of Simon (Bill Skarsgaard), who grows up in a loving working class family on the outskirts of Gothenburg but always feels out of place. He finally convinces his father to send him to an upper-class grammar school, where he meets Isak, the son of a wealthy Jewish bookseller who has fled Nazi persecution in Germany. Simon is dazzled by the books, art and music he encounters in the home of Isak's father Ruben (Jan Josef Leifers), which makes Simon long to know more about his own family background. Isak, on the other hand, draws comfort from learning to do something with his hands, helping Simon's dad (Stefan Godicke) make boats. When Isak faces trouble at home, he is taken in by Simon's family and the two households slowly merge, connecting in unexpected ways as war rages all over Europe. -- (C) Official Site … More
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Critic Reviews for Simon and the Oaks
"Simon and the Oaks" branches out in ways unusual and interesting enough to hold your attention and then even shake it a bit.
The sheer sincerity of everyone concerned bolsters the whole enterprise so that Ohlin's historical novel-on-film holds us.
"Simon and the Oaks" is not merely the story of two boys from opposite sides of the tracks. It's also a larger meditation on life's hardships and what endures: love, art and civilization.
With its fool's-gold cinematography, over-emphatic musical score and self-important protagonist, "Simon and the Oaks" is a puny acorn that dreams it's a towering achievement.
It's a warmly done family and personal drama that seems to cover familiar territory, but only up to a point and very much in its own way.
Contains more than one emotionally potent scene and never takes the easy shortcuts.
Significant enough to be name-checked in the title, the trees hang over the film, threatening to impose heavy metaphor on what is otherwise a straightforward family saga.
The German occupation barely makes an impression in Lisa Ohlin's sluggish adaptation of Marianne Fredriksson's novel.
Simon and the Oaks is a lot of things, but above all, it is too much.
So much is thrown at the audience, it makes it difficult to focus or choose the important points in this sprawling story.
What starts off as an intriguing coming-of-age story, ends up being a convoluted movie with too many characters having problems.
Foreign-film comfort food...at its best in exploring the psychology of the adopted.
Loses steam the longer it tries to articulate uninteresting asides, with the effort's coming of age inclination best served on an intimate scale of unspoken tragedy. Inflating the troubles only emphasizes storytelling shortcomings.
A sensitive character study chronicling the considerable challenge of coming-of-age Jewish with the specter of the Third Reich lurking just over the horizon.
Simon and The Oaks covers the various paths taken by a sensitive and smart boy and then young man in his quest for meaning.
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