Swedish filmmaker Mikael Hafstrom directs the coming-of-age drama Ondskan (Evil), based on the autobiographical novel by Jan Guillou. In the mid-'50s, teenager Erik Ponti (Andreas Wilson) suffers serious abuse at the hands of his father (Johan Rabaeus). He translates the violence at home to school, eventually getting himself expelled for fighting. His mother (Marie Richardson) struggles to come up with the money to send him to a private school, where the senior boys brutally haze the juniors in a ritualistic tradition. Erik makes enemies with senior Otto Silverheim (Gustaf Skarsgård), but, fortunately, finds friendship with Pierre (Henrik Lundstrom) and romance with Marja (Linda Zilliacus). Evil was screened at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi
Nominated for Best Foreign Film in 2004, EVIL (way too generic a title for a film this good!) will surprise you, as much by what it refuses to stoop to as by what it embraces. Set back in time when WWII and the Nazis were still a vivid memory in Sweden, the movie tells the tale of an abused young man who is himself becoming an abuser and so is sent to a boarding school in one last chance to "straighten out." The school itself is run by the rich and titled senior boys who lord it over their lower classmen, and so the problems for our hero soon mount up. The look of the movie is first-rate, as is the storytelling, performances and direction. I would like to have had a better understanding of Swedish history in order to gain a foothold on some of the subtleties here, yet the story is strong enough to ride through or over any objections, carrying viewers along breathlessly. Andreas Wilson makes a gorgeous & sturdy hero, while Gustaf Skarsgard (son of Stellan) is an equally fine villain.