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Monday, May 26, 2008


TOM BROWN’S SCHOOL DAYS meets REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE in this over-baked Swedish Bildungsroman (Bildungskino?) coming-of-age pic about a troubled teen who responds to his step-dad’s beatings with savage schoolyard thuggery. Given a last chance at a posh private school, he tries to ignore the sadistic traditions of upperclass ‘fagging,’ but ultimately lashes out, turning the tables on his tormentors with his fists. An odd moral lesson, no? Megger Mikael Hafstrom has little gift for channeling the emotional resonance built into Jan Guilou’s novelized memoir (the levels of tit-for-tat bullying & bloody violence are fit for a FIGHT CLUB sequel) and he loses crucial 50's atmosphere in repression & conformity with a cast that looks & acts far too up-to-date. Oddly, there’s not a speck of homoerotic tension amongst the close all-male quarters, testosterone & swim club scenes; a first for a puberty addled boarding school yarn.

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