A lonely boy named Simon (Jonatan S. Wächter) befriends a Jewish schoolmate (Martin Eriksson) and his dad on the eve of the Nazi invasion of Sweden. Following the war, the now-teenage Simon (Bill Skarsgard, son of Stellan) begins to research his family’s past. What starts off as an innocence-lost parable à la Au Revoir, Les Enfants soon broadens its horizons, encompassing dueling father figures, classical-music obsessions, nervous breakdowns, suicide, S&M-spiced sex, illicit longings and one highly symbolic tree. Filmmaker Lisa 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.
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