Simon and the Oaks

COLIN COVERT | Updated 11/1/2012

The Swedish epic follows a friendship through World War II.

A scene from "Simon and the Oaks."
Photo provided by The Film Arcade

Talented acting family, those Skarsgaards. Bill, brother of Alex and son of Stellan, impresses as the star of this sweeping WWII-era drama based on Marianne Fredriksson's Swedish bestseller. Simon Larsson is a bright, dreamy, solitary boy who feels out of place on his kind foster parents' hardscrabble farm in the countryside outside Gothenburg. More interested in books and symphonies than log-splitting, he can't wait to leave for the expensive private school his family can barely afford. There, he comes to the aid of Isak, a student who's being bullied by anti-Semitic classmates, forming an instant friendship. Isak's family are urban, well-to-do and refined refugees from Berlin, yet with them Simon finds a second family that embraces his own in friendship and business partnership. The film follows Simon and Isak through their teenage years into their first romances, professional lives and shared destiny in Sweden's postwar economic boom. Director Lisa Ohlin's lush, handsomely crafted middlebrow epic was nominated for 13 Swedish Oscars. (Unrated. In subtitled Swedish and German.)