I love a good World War II movie, especially ones that delve into the human aspect of the repercussions on war, like “Schindler’s List” and “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, both which are gut wrenching tear jerkers of the utmost caliber. I was very pleased with “Simon and the Oaks” for the very same reason, but without as many tissues needed. Simon (Jonatan S. Wachter) is a young Swedish boy who spends a lot of his time in a treehouse in a large oak tree, fully engrossed in his book and his imagination. Because of his fondness for reading, he decides he wants to go to school, something his father Erik (Stefan Godicke) frowns upon.It’s 1939- the world is on the cusp of a global war again, so education really isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds. At his mother Karin’s (Helen Sjoholm) behest, Simon is allowed to attend class at the local school and it’s here where he meets Isak (Karl Martin Eriksson), a German Jewish boy whose parents came to Sweden to escape the Nazi regime. Isak’s father Ruben (Jan Josef Liefers) owns a bookstore, something that thrills Simon, and he and Isak become fast friends. As the movie progresses, you begin to realize that there is so much more to each of these characters than it initially seems, and soon every story begins to intertwine. We also do get to see the boys’ friendship mature as they themselves get older, and how the burdens of their lives- and the history of the world- has developed them as men.
Also starring Karl Linnertorp as the older Isak and Bill Skarsgard (yes, he’s Stellan’s boy and Alexander’s brother- there are some pretty good genes running in that family line) as the older Simon, this movie as a decently slow build, but uses that time to fully flesh out the characters and various plots and subplots. Bases on the bestselling Scandinavian novel of the same name by author Marianne Fredriksson, “Simon and the Oaks” shows that even in adversity, friendship is something that can last over the ages.
“Simon and the Oaks” is now available on DVD.
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