It’s a rare coming-of-age movie that appeals to the heart and mind, but that is exactly what the latest Swedish contribution to the Baltic-Nordic Film Festival sets out to do – and achieves magnificently.
Simon and the Oaks (2011), to be presented by Swedish Ambassador Teppo Tauriainen, is a satisfying film that movingly explores the intellectual flourishing of a young man amid the genocide of Nazi Germany. Simon Larsson (Bill Skarsgård), an aspiring intellectual, feels out of place in his loving but working-class family on the outskirts of Gothenburg. All this changes when Simon meets Isak Lentov (Karl Linnertorp), the son of a wealthy Jewish bookseller fleeing Nazi persecution. A wonderful universe opens up for Simon as he encounters books, art and music in the home of his new friend. In return, Isak draws comfort from learning to work with his hands as he helps Simon’s father build boats.
Soon, the specter of Nazi Germany casts a shadow over the lives of the two young men. When Isak faces trouble at home, he is taken in by Simon’s family and the two households slowly merge and their destinies connect in unexpected ways as war rages across Europe. Based on the bestselling novel by Marianne Fredriksson, Simon and the Oaks – in Swedish with English subtitles – is a movie that leaves an indelible impression long after the film has ended.
Simon and the Oaks screens at 7pm on Friday, February 8, at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street. A reception hosted by the Embassy of Sweden will be held after the film screening. Tickets are available at the door.
All Photos: Dan Lausten