I'm surprised it wasn't made in Hollywood. It has all the hallmarks. A one-dimensional evil guy. A tough kid with a heart of gold. The evil schoolmaster. The sacrifice of the victim. And most important, that 'based on a true story' is only minimally true. It's just your typical melodrama.
A prison story focusing on the abuse of power done extremely right. The heart and soul of "King of Devil's Island" is as warm as it is raw; as if William Golding had written Alan Clarke's "Scum" and set it in Norway. While the Bastøy prison system is now known for its elegant liberalism, this film portrays children under siege, fighting for what they see as morality. Beautifully and flawlessly executed.
This film bears many parallels to a recent Finnish film called 'Home of Dark Butterflies' and where that one fails this one triumphs. Solid acting, superb cinematography and a subtle and restrained score all help flesh it out. It's just a shame that it doesn't really offer anything we haven't seen before in any number of sadistic prison films and lord-of-the-flies type stories. 3 stars
Almost five stars - one of the best norwegian films I've seen. Not artistically intriguing, but as a classic, powerful story it's almost perfect; suspenseful and touching. And the acting is awesome! I predict our first Oscar-nomination in ten years.
Extremely sanitised prison flick where angelical inmates in mannequin mode typically struggle and rebel against an oppressive system ruled by a gang of jailers whose ethos is not entirely clear. Director Marius Holst is wary of adding strata and shading, fleeing from complex characterization, preferring to stick to the Americanized formula of a dull binary confrontation between good and evil.
A token bully film, albeit this time in the wilderness, where teachers scare and abuse their students in a variety of ways, applying different techniques. At times beautiful, but mostly very linear and obvious. A couple of stellar performances from the boy actors, but otherwise just a clean walkthrough.
A gripping story about abuse, the abusers and those who were abused and those who decided to fight against the abuse. It is especially the new young talents that hold up the movie and make it strong while the most famous name, Stellan Skarsgård, mostly go around overseeing the events and production (that he co-produced). Good characterization help but it doesn't manage to deliver a good enough closure on the story.