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. Simon’s parents are working-class Swedes, but he develops a surrogate family in his schoolmate Isak and Isak’s father — wealthy, German and Jewish. To help their troubled children, these contrasting sets of parents blend into an affecting unit that expands over the years, eventually forming a business together and spanning generations. What’s extraordinary is the absolute love these adults show for the children, even amid their searches for, and confrontations with, identity. Matters of the heart are thwarted in a most Chekhovian manner, except with added melodrama that includes a few nervous breakdowns (and one thrilling burning mansion). — David DeWitt
Most all of the actors are mesmerizing; Helen Sjoholm, as Simon’s mother, in particular is a deep well of complex feeling. Bill Skarsgard (Stellan’s son, Alexander’s brother) is less involving as the older Simon. That’s partly because the movie’s concluding scenes, perhaps reflecting their literary origin (a novel by Marianne Fredriksson), rob us of some emotional payoffs. Early scenes are problematic too, suggesting a magical realism that is mostly abandoned later.
Disappointments, yes, but hardly damning. “Simon and the Oaks,” with its big ideas of destiny and selfhood, is rooted in hearts doomed to break.
In this World War II-era drama, working-class Simon forms a bond with Isak, a wealthy Jewish boy bullied by his classmates and terrified of the Nazis
This is a wonderful film and I have to disagree with the other reviews. This film tells a complicated story set mostly in Norway before, during and after WWII. The story revolves around a young Norwegian boy and how his family copes with a secret involving the boy; how the boy interacts with another boy he meets at school and how the two families cope with events of the War and the Holocaust. The acting is superb, the cinematography incredible and I found myself intensely caring about the characters - all hallmarks of an excellent film. I cannot give Director Lisa Ohlin enough credit for the work she did on this film; the details of life in rural Norway, the settings in Oslo and Germany - all superb. The storyline is done so well that I was guessing through the very end. If you like a film with a lot of subtlety, complexity,and sensitivity you will love this film. This is Btranquilo and I highly recommend this gem of a film. This film deserves a much wider US audience.
The film is about Simon (Bill Skarsgård), growing up in a working-class family on the outskirts of Gothenburg during World War II. He is very talented and always felt different and an outsider. Against his parents' approval, he seeks to schools and education as a working kid normally not attend. There he meets Isaac (Karl Linnertorp), the son of a wealthy Jewish bookseller who fled persecution in Nazi Germany. The two boys and their families' lives are interwoven while war rages in Europe.