Title: King of Devil’s Island
Genre: Action, Drama
Director: Marius Holst
Screenwriters: Mette M. Bølstad
Starring: Benjamin Helstad, Trond Nilssen, Stellan Skarsgård
Screened at the 2011 Fantasia Film Fesitval
There’s nothing revelatory and very little surprising in this Norwegian based-on-a-true-story drama, but you’d have to be a stone not to find it at least a little bit stirring. At a windswept boarding school for delinquent boys (their delinquencies ranging from petty theft to murder), an unintimidated newcomer (Benjamin Helstad) and a veteran who’s always played by the rules (Trond Nilssen) start giving the self-righteous governor (Stellan Skarsgard) and his underlings a run for their money. Entire plot lines are telegraphed (I wonder what will befall a scrawny new kid who is told by the “Housefather” to attend private singing practice) and the only clear message may be “don’t abuse 100 teenage boys if there’s only like six of you and you don’t have guns,” but the film’s well-told, no-nonsense story of friendship, responsibility, and survival had me in tears.
— Eugene Novikov