"Simon and the Oaks" branches out in ways unusual and interesting enough to hold your attention and then even shake it a bit.
| Original Score: B-
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.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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.
| Original Score: 2/4
[A] lush, handsomely crafted middlebrow epic ...
| Original Score: 3/4
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.
| Original Score: 3.5/5
Poetic, romantic and idealistic, it begins in 1939 and concludes after the end of World War II.
The classical music is soothing, the cinematography handsome and the acting strong, but the Swedish coming-of-age saga "Simon and the Oaks'' is burdened with a sappy, soap-opera-ish script.
With its exhilarating World War II narrative and performances that touch notes intimate and grand, "Simon and the Oaks" has an exquisite, and epic, ache.
| Original Score: 5/5
It is what it is, which is emphatically not enough to bear the weight of genocide.
Though it retains the narrative complexity of the Swedish bestseller on which it's based, WWII saga Simon and the Oaks never creates an emotional or intellectual throughline of its own.
Ohlin enhances the historical melodramatics with immaculate period details, but the film never finds the right mix of the epic and the intimate-the personal as seen through the 20th century's Euro-geopolitical turmoil-that it aims for.
| Original Score: 3/5
Simon and the Oaks has all the superficial elements of compelling drama but none of the interiority; it looks like a good movie without ever actually feeling like one.
The life of the mind trumps family ties in Swedish coming-of-age tale.