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Simon och ekarna
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Reviews & Ratings for
Simon & the Oaks More at IMDbPro »Simon och ekarna (original title)

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22 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Like An Oak, The Film Is Strong

Author: johno-21 from United States
15 February 2012

I saw this at the 2012 Palm Springs International Film Festival where the film's director Lisa Ohlin was on hand at my screening for an audience Q&A following the film. Adapted for the screen by Marnie Blok from the popular novel by Marianne Fredriksson, it is the story of Simon Larsson,(played as a boy by Jonatan S. Wächter and as a young man by Bill Skarsgård) who is being raised by an aunt and uncle (Helen Sjöholm as Karin Larsson and Stefan Gödicke as Erik Larsson) who he thinks are his real parents. It takes place in Sweden and begins in 1939 at the outbreak of WWII in Europe. Young Simon goes off to a prestigious school where he befriends Isak Lentov (played as a boy by Karl Martin Eriksson and as a young man by Karl Linnertorp). Isak is Jewish and antisemitism has spilled over into Sweden so he is somewhat of an outcast at school except for his new friend Simon. Simon is from a rural working class background and Isak is the city bred son of a wealthy bookseller and their lives are woven together through WWII and beyond in this tender drama as Simon confronts family and society in a search for who he is. An excellent performance as the loving mother by the popular Swedish singer Sjöholm who is making her first screen role since 2004's "As It Is In Heaven" in which she gave another great performance in a supporting role. I don't know what took her so long to return to the screen but she should have been making more movies. Gödicke is very good too as the tough love father. Excellent production and art design by Anders Engelbrecht and Lena Selander. The film is also looks good thanks to cinematographer Dan Lausten and costumer Katja Watkins. Annette Focks scores some beautiful music and Jason Luke give the film great sound. A great supporting cast with many interesting characters. I would give this an 9.0 out of 10 and recommend it.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Terrific Family Saga

Author: clg238 from United States
5 November 2012

One of the many virtues of this outstanding film is the complexity of its characters. No one is purely good or bad. Good people make horrendous mistakes. Nature versus nurture has a huge role to play in individual and family lives. Another major virtue is the acting: I did not experience a single false note in any of the performances. Kudos also to the writer and director for the way World War II and the Holocaust are embedded in the story: realistically but without clichés. I found extremely interesting Simon's relationship with the oak tree and would have liked just a bit more of it throughout the movie, rather than most of it at the beginning, where it is hugely intriguing but ineffable. My only (very minor) complaint is the music, which I found at some critical points to be overbearing; I prefer it when the acting carries the day without the audience having to be signaled as to the importance of a certain action or moment. I was totally riveted through the entire film—for me, it doesn't get much better than that.

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Simple plot but interesting heart filled execution

Author: Saad Khan from Pakistan
3 July 2012

Simon och ekarna – Simon & the Oaks – CATCH IT (A-) Swedish movie about two families, their friendship and common destiny in Sweden's Gothenburg in the 1940s and 1950s during World War II. The movie is told from young Simon Larsson perspective, who learns that he's an adopted child who has a Jewish father from Germany. The story in the backdrop of World War II in Sweden is really simple but what makes this interesting is the heart hitting performance by all the actors. It's just so uplifting to see how a poor father found the son he always wanted in the rich father's son and the rich father found the son he ever wanted at this poor family. Even though I loved the movie, I have to admit that the movie is much more fascinated when the kids were young. When they grow up, the relationship becomes more complicated and some of the things I didn't like e.g Simon disrespecting his mother. Though Simon was shown self centered from childhood but his leaving his mother behind led to her heart break and ultimate consequences. The performances by young Simon Jonatan S. Wächter and young Isak Karl Martin Eriksson are tremendous. Bill Skarsgård as adult Simon is great, and how he turned in to the obnoxious ungrateful person is interesting. Helen Sjöholm as Simon's mother and Isak's caretaker is such superb. I loved her portrayal. Stefan Gödicke as father of a poor family and Jan Josef Liefers Karl Linnertorp as father of the rich family are good. Overall, with stunning performance and cinematography the movie is a treat to watch.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

profound touching

Author: Armand from Romania
23 November 2014

a film about family. values, secrets, members' links, fight for survive, fears, miracles. a film about the levels of life for a boy. and, sure, about oaks. impressive in that case is not only the high performances or the atmosphere, the story or the testimony of the lead character about his universe but the splendid strange feeling. it seems be one of stories who are parts of viewer life. in a special manner. Bill Skarsgard as Simon is brilliant but its art has a great frame. the landscapes, the flavor of the old world behind the war, the nuances of acting from his partners. a film like a web of emotions. a good source of reflection. about the life and about its truth. and about the price of each human age.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:


Author: talltchr from Lake Arrowhead, CA
15 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

World War II experienced from an oblique angle. The characters are just far enough from the vortex that their lives are spared, but not so far as to avoid its terror or the antisemitism that changes the course of their lives, Jew and gentile alike, by pervasive fear. Special mention should be made of the character Isa played by Katharina Schüttler. She's a young woman who emerged from Auschwitz traumatized and reckless. From the actress's first moment on screen, we see that this is someone we have never encountered before. Perhaps in another generation she might have become Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, et al) but in this film, she's a well of anger and fatalism. She's the wild card that makes Simon realize there are limits to his rebelliousness. Indeed, all the characters test their limits: Karin to have an affair, Erik to maintain his anger and jealousy, Inga to keep either the love of her life or her son, Isak to enter the world, Reuben to satisfy his desires. The film is unfailingly absorbing and, despite a few fanciful scenes with the tree and the clouds, utterly genuine.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Different and Engrossing

Author: Moviegoer19 from United States
7 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found this film on Netflix and watched it without expectations, except for an ongoing interest in films that are in some way about WWII and the Holocaust. I wasn't disappointed, though felt that it may have been a bit drawn out toward the end. What I liked most was its unpredictable plot turns. I liked the way the two boys pretty much switched families, that the parents of each were able to go along with what seemed to feel right. As a student and practitioner of psychology, I was fascinated with the way the concept of "genetic memory" was included vis a vis a boy feeling as if he had already heard music without knowing he had a father who was a violinist. I gave it a 7-star vote because I think there may have been too much going on which made the film feel more superficial than it should have.

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6 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Not the least interesting family saga

Author: OJT from Norway
10 November 2012

Maybe I had too much expectations for this, but it was a pain to watch this to the end. I must first of all say that I haven't read the book of which this is based. I understand that this book is re-known, and I also understood that this was nominated to nothing less than 13 guldbaggar in Swedish film.

Well, that's not at all understandable to me. I tend to like films like this, but I'm afraid to say that this film is impossible to get hold of. It's pretentious, both in manuscript and in acting.But far worse is it that it becomes boring when the chemistry between the actors are missing.

What is likable, is Bill Skarsgård. He's the one coming from this alive, due to his charm, though the film can't seem to make the best out of it. Simon is not likable, if still charming. Maybe also with small Isak. A good actor, but not taken care of. I see this as helpless instruction of what must be fine actors to work with.

I tend to see it as Lisa Ohlin is not cut to make films like this. Both on screen writing and in directing this is very flawed. Overacted, constantly staring people is bad enough.

What's even worse is the sense of us not believing one bit of the story. It's too far fetched. It might have worked in the book, but in the film, when something gets remotely interesting, it's a cut into pieces. The clipping work is awful. It tears up what could have been a great scene. Like when Simon is confronting his parents. The next scene is him walking away from the little house with luggage on his bike.

Even more stupid is the thoughtful sequences, which are far-fetched, boring and badly done technically. The whole thing about the oak is also both pretentious and artsy fartsy. It makes you yawn and hate the concept.

What is good, is the environment and filming. Beautifully shot, it is, and so in vain, when the rest is not making up to it. I've read some quite good reviews for this one, but the critics must have been out to lunch. Such a waste. It's not a turkey, but rather a pheasant. I'd rather have chicken, any day.

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3 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Huge disappointment

Author: Kong Ho Meng
17 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a huge disappointment it was considering all the good critic reviews and the many nominations this film has garnered.

Good cinematography and an unconventional storyline, unfortunately do not hide a poorly made script coupled with disastrous acting by some of the actors, where things are unveiled halfway and just disappear without the proper follow-up they deserve. Something like a badly made soap opera.

Another aspect that made this movie worse than what it already is is that there were more and more clichés and/or nonsensical actions taken by the characters as we progress further towards the ending. How an adulterous relationship and conflicting parental upbringing managed to avoid wrecking two families' relationship for so long; how a rich well-known Jew did not find a need to go into hiding but instead spent his time meddling into another families' business; the sudden ignorance of a troubled child who after a few years miraculously became a normal adult (and ignored), and how a Holocaust survivor from one of the worst concentration camps behave in such a weird, spoilt-brat manner were completely off the mark!

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2 out of 13 people found the following review useful:


Author: woutervandersluis from Indonesia
17 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I always wonder what exactly kitsch is. This movie makes it more clear to me. All the drama and tragedy in life is in it but it is only the outside of it while avoiding the real pain of life. It is worse than being sentimental to have such a pretense. Its making a feel good movie out of stories of life which are in reality each in itself a feel bad event. And because it avoids the real tragedy it needs so many stories to fill up this pretense of really having to tell us something worthwhile about human life. Of course the movie needs the blackest story of the European history to hide the emptiness: the holocaust. And then it does not show or even tell anything true about that genocide, the dark abyss of human nature. The Jew who barely survived the camp to die shortly after that, leaving a violin to his bastard son which he begot with a Nordic nymph in the woods of Sweden at a brook. A nymph who growing up turns out to be a schizophrenic woman living alone with pigs in that same wood. That's two cliché's with the strange twist of the pigs.I mean how much do you need Mrs Fredriksson (the author of the novel) to make a story? A lot more, a lot more.

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12 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

World War II the Swedish way

Author: stensson from Stockholm, Sweden
23 January 2012

Two boys meet at school in Gothenburg 1939. They become friends. One is a Jew and one is supposed not to be. One is upper middle class and one comes from a working class background.

Quite much is foreseeable here, but the greatest problem is the acting. Not that it's disastrous or even bad during the circumstances, but there are plenty of anachronisms here. From the laboring father, who is something out of the 60s, more than 1939. To the boys, who have a way of staring into the camera, which is common-piece in every Swedish movie, which tries to portrait harsh times. Especially if it's the 40s. "Something is going on inside that boy". The problem is that we know exactly what, when he has those eyes.

That is disturbing and takes quality out of this film.

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