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In an adaptation of one of Stephen King's most unusual stories, high
school student Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro) gets acquainted with Nazi
fugitive Kurt Dussander (Ian McKellen) and blackmails him. But as the
acquaintanceship continues, Todd's curiosity begins to get the better
of him, and his interest in his subject starts going too far, to the
point where he can start manipulating everyone around him.
McKellen does as good a job in "Apt Pupil" as he's done in pretty much every movie, although his role here is much grimmer than his other ones. It just goes to show what a great actor he is. His performance will probably leave you chilled. And that boy sure had no morality. Also starring Joshua Jackson, Ann Dowd, Bruce Davison, James Karen, David Schwimmer and Joe Morton.
There's no doubt about it: Bryan Singer is such an excellent director,
a great entertainer. He's made it clear in the so addictive X-Men I &
II, but he had already probed his skills in "Apt Pupil": a good rhythm
that goes "in crescendo", the characters has been wisely defined, and
no fancy stuff at all...
OK, in the plot there are some coincidences that are pretty unbelievable, but this is only fiction and, anyway, the responsible for that is Mr. Stephen King, the author of the story Singer based his movie on.
*My rate: 7/10
First, I wanna apologize for my English, in my country the language is the Spanish. Now, I read the book and I loved it (as many other King's books), and I think that the movie is OK, I can't think in a better Todd, and Ian McKellen is just perfect for Dussander. I know that the movie doesn't show everything that appears on the book, but which movie based upon a book does? And, beside, the ending is so much more terrific, not quite realistic, is truth; I don't know you, but I prefer a killer discovered that a perfect psycho asking me on a date the same night that he plans to kill some homeless. In enough words, the film is as good as the book, just different.
Wow, what a dark movie! The setting and the atmosphere is wonderfully staged. The interaction between Brad Renfro and Ian McKellen is perfidious, the way they control and manipulate each other is shrewd. It's not so much the visual horror, but the psychological terror that infiltrates their minds. The clinical calculating and the subtle viciousness of both main characters make this movie sinister. Thus the acting to attain this effect has to be very good, what it is indeed. Well thought-through, nice cast, straight acting. It's a fine game of cat-and-mouse, sometimes you don't even know who is in control and who is controlled. I think this one does justice to the original artwork by Stephen King, though the very end differs a bit.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is based on a short novel by Stephen King (it can be found in his collection "Different Seasons", which also includes the stories which inspired "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Stand By Me"). The plot deals with an American high-school student who becomes fascinated with a fugitive Nazi war criminal who is living incognito in his neighbourhood. The boy forces the war criminal to tell him details of the atrocities he committed.
The film deals with the lure of evil. The boy starts off as a fairly normal kid, who seems to have a bit of a morbid turn of mind, until his fascination becomes much darker. At the same time, the Nazi starts to rediscover his old ways.
The subject matter is something that could very easily be dealt with in extreme bad taste, but director Bryan Singer handles it fairly well. The main flaws in the film are a lack of character development. The regular life of the boy (and how the Nazi's influence affects it) isn't really dealt with much. Except for some discussion about his falling marks in school.
The cast is superb, particularly Ian McKellan as the elderly Nazi and Brad Renfro as the boy. "Friends" star David Schwimmer is good in a small role.
Sir Ian McKellan and Brad Renfro star in this film about what happened
during the second world war through the eyes of a Nazi war criminal. Brad
Renfro plays Todd Bowden a student who wants to probe into the life of a
nazi war criminal who lives next door to him. Todd uses everything he can to
get info from Arthur Dussander played by McKellan. Todd uses blackmail in
order to get what he wants but it soon backfires as McKellan reverses the
game as he plays with Todd's mind.
This movie missed with me because all it did was skate around what happened and instead of taking something away from it, I saw nothing but psychological games being played that didn't quite cut it for me.
If I wanted to see better psychological games I could have rented "The Silence Of The Lambs." "Apt Pupil" wasted the talents of McKellan and Renfro with a lame story. It had a lot of room for improvement. This is not a movie I would jump out of my seat and go to the video store to rent the movie again.
Apt Pupil (1998) is one of the first movies in a long time that genuinely
disturbed me. Adapted from a novella by Stephen King, it is the story of a
high school student (played by Brad Renfro) who has an unhealthy obsession
with the Holocaust; when he learns that a former Nazi (played by Ian
McKellan) who worked in concentration camps during the war is living
secretly in his town, he decides to blackmail him with his history in
exchange for hearing stories of his past. My first reaction to this
startling introduction was that it was too far-fetched for Renfro to
actually have dusted McKellan's mailbox for fingerprints in order to run a
match with his search warrant, but by the end of the movie, the only thing I
found far-fetched was that he didn't do anything even MORE extreme. Because
the true horror of the film is not the Nazi, but the boy who gradually turns
into one. While I won't reveal the progression of the plot, I WILL warn
animal lovers that you'll most likely wince at more than one time.
Personally, I've never been very unsettled by King's writings: I loved
Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining (even though it's a well-known fact that
King didn't) and Rob Reiner's Misery, but neither of them really bothered me
-- perhaps because in both of them, we at least have someone to root for
(Shelley Duvall in The Shining and Paul Newman in Misery). But in Apt Pupil,
both of the principal characters are equally evil. Obviously, this is not a
film for everyone: but for those with an open mind and a taste for
psychological thrillers, Apt Pupil will prove to be a very rewarding
experience. McKellan's and Renfro's performances are both outstanding: this
very year McKellan had a similar role as mentor in Gods and Monsters, but by
making a 180-degree turn here, he proves that he can do just about anything.
As for Renfro (who made his debut in the 1994 Susan Sarandon-Tommy Lee Jones
thriller, The Client), I think we should all look forward to more from him.
The supporting cast is a combination of teen television stars (Friends'
David Schwimmer and Dawson's Creek's Joshua Jackson) and big Hollywood names
(Joe Morton and Elias Koteas). The script is razor-sharp, and Bryan Singer's
direction is superb: together, they manage to create tension out of
practically nowhere. It is rumored that when King heard that the director of
The Usual Suspects was planning to do Apt Pupil, he sold the rights for one
dollar; after viewing the end result, I can see why. Apt Pupil is not a
perfect film ... in fact, it's not even a particularly great one. But that's
hardly the point: the point is that after a year filled with thrillers that
didn't make me jump, here's one that did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spoilers, perhaps? Apt Pupil is Bryan Singer's follow-up to his highly successful '95 release The Usual Suspects, and he does a very proficient job with the chilly story (adapted from a Stephen King novella of the same name). I remember reading the psychologically disturbing story as a child, thinking, `Man, this is some truly scary s**t!' - thankfully, Singer sounds the gavel on my former judgment with a nice loud thud (insert sound of lifeless body hitting the floor here). Brad Renfro (Tom & Huck, Sleepers) plays Todd Bowden, a 16-year-old honor student in an LA high school who transforms from typical all-American to snarled Nazi mentor after studying the Holocaust in school. Discovering SS war criminal Kurt Dussander (Ian McKellen) in his hometown, Todd (a history buff who dusts the mailbox for fingerprints) blackmails the old man into sharing the horrors of war with him, urging him to linger on the immoral details. But, as Dussander reveals his evil past, the two begin a psychological game of cat and mouse that spirals out of control as they begin to `need' one another too much. The cast is flawless and there are some truly horrific scenes; not horrific like Friday the Thirteenth or anything, just memorable in a more sinister way! And although David Schwimmer's moustache is positively abominable, he turns in the best performance of his entire career as a nerdy high-school guidance counselor named Ed French. And here I never thought I'd like the guy! On a deeper level, Apt Pupil focuses on the real evil that lies beneath the whitewash of Suburbia, applying the horrors of the Holocaust as a backdrop while prompting viewers to question what depravity really is. In that respect, the film tips its hat to David Lynch's Blue Velvet, succeeding as its characters slowly regress. Eventually, bodies get buried in dark basements and animals buy the farm, but the film sticks with its unfavorable will the whole way through (typically un-Hollywood). At last, a film with no moralistic lesson to be learned that toughs it out for the bad guys until the very end!
This movie is so excellently disturbing that it makes you question yourself. Apt Pupil is about a selfish, bratty boy Todd, who is an outstanding student and a fair athlete. In class Todd does an assignment on a nazi extermination camp leader, one night on the bus he spots him. The kid takes pictures of him, dusts his mail for fingerprints, which turns out to be a perfect match. The kid orders the retired nazi to tell him stories or he won't leave alone. The kid starts to become absorbed in these stories, he buys the old man a nazi extermination soldier costume. He orders him to put it on and march. Suddenly Todd's grades start to drop, and he orders the old man to forge him a note to the guidance counsler. The kid is called down to the office and finds the ancient german there posing as his grandpa. The old man starts to murder again, and drags the kid into it too. The kid turns in to a monster. Unfortunately the kid starts to get fantasies of murdering the old kook. Will somebody find out Mr. Dussander, (the nazi) 's identity? If so both of them will be ruined. (Especially if they check the basement!).
This movie was one of the most disturbing movies I have seen. Ian McKellan gave a spectacular performance, as did (somewhat)newcomer Brad Renfro. I wouldn't really call this a "horror" movie as it was advertised to be, but surely suspenseful. Good plot, great acting...I thought the ending was particularly amusing...I give this movie an "A"
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