The Devil’s Island of the title isn’t the French Guyanan penal colony famous from ‘Papillon’ but its frozen Norwegian counterpart Bastøy, a remote minimum-security prison for teenage offenders. It’s 1915, and into this unforgiving environment comes Erling (Benjamin Helstad), a rebellious boy bent on escape. Erling is quickly singled out as a troublemaker by warden Håkon (Stellan Skarsgaard), but his refusal to knuckle under makes him a hero to his fellow inmates. Stark, austere and just a touch too reliant on prison movie clichés, ‘King of Devil’s Island’ is no one’s idea of a fun night at the pictures. But it is a well-constructed and gripping story, particularly as the violent climax approaches. A young cast acquits itself well – Helstad is most convincing as the bruiser with a poet’s soul, and Skarsgaard is also impressive as the conflicted, morally compromised governor. But the film is rather one-note in its bleakness, and doesn’t have a vast amount to say beyond ‘reform school sucks’.
|Release date:||Friday June 29 2012|
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Lars Saabye Christensen, Mette M Bølstad, Dennis Magnusson, Eric Schmid|