They were different times back then; an age prior to the sheen of political correctness and the term, “time out.” Back then punishments were doled out with non-negotiable terms. Not only could one’s own parents differ in their style of implementation, each set of parents in the neighborhood varied tremendously on what they considered to be a just punishment. I remember one mother down the street would stand on the porch and threaten her son that she was going to send him away to a bad boy’s school. Another parent would impose a curfew on any of her children if they acted up; usually this meant they could only go outside to go to school, but then come straight home and stay in the house. I can still remember a couple of friends who would get smacked in the head if they got in trouble. No one ever questioned these actions nor did anyone call the Department of Children and Family Services. I am a firm believer in doling out a proper punishment for the “crime.” Granted it is steeped in a foundation of reasoning and I know there are some times one cannot reason with a screaming child. However, I like the idea of explaining if these actions continue then this will be the consequences…and follow through with it. Some of you may recall a few of the stories I have mentioned previously about the things that took place in my high school. This dramatic action film could give my school a run for its money. BASTOY was an island where juvenile delinquent boys would be sent to do time. Harsh punishment was the norm for any infraction, but that did not seem to stop the newest boy named Erling/C-19, played by Benjamin Helstad (Body Troopers, Permafrost). The rumor going around was Erling had been sent because he had murdered someone. This film festival winning dramatic movie was based on a true story and what a story it was. Set in the early 20th century in Norway, the entire look of the film was a continuous grim harshness. It worked perfectly for the well done script. Speaking of the script, I enjoyed the way it drew the viewer into the story. With actors such as Stellan Skarsgard (The Avengers, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Bestyreren, Trond Nilssen (All That Matters is Past, Sons of Norway) as Olav/C-1 and Kristoffer Joner (The Monitor, Next Door) as Brathen; I thought the entire cast did a wonderful job with their characters. As I sat and watched this film I wondered how different the story would have been if it had taken place today. A frightening thought either way. Norwegian and Swedish was spoken with English subtitles.
3 1/2 star — DVD
Though the physical and verbal blows ended a long time ago they are still remembered. The changing landscape of an aging body may cover up the dents of abuse but the tremors remain just beneath the surface. Pain never discriminates, it only knows to dig toward one’s heart. It was not until I was in my 20s before I realized there was supposed to be space between my shoulders and ears. I can still remember when a friend or relative expressed kindness with an innocent physical gesture; my whole body would tense up. It was not something that was done consciously, more instinctive or something I learned at a young age. In addition each verbal assault can be recalled verbatim to this day. They dominate any positive comments I may receive by shoving them to a junk room in my mind. To say it takes a lot of work to correct this circuitry in the brain would be putting it mildly. Based on a true story former British army officer Eric Lomax, played by Colin Firth (A Single Man, The King’s Speech), was someone I could relate to in this film festival winning movie. Years have past since he was forced to work on a railroad for Japanese troops while he was a prisoner of war. His wife Patti, played by Nicole Kidman (The Hours, The Golden Compass), had no idea what her husband had to endure during the war because he never talked about it. She only knew something was not right. Nicole and Colin were beautifully suited to play husband and wife. From their performance I was easily convinced they were a married couple; that was how commanding they were in playing their characters. Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting, The Avengers) as Finlay had a curious role in which he was well suited for the part. The director had a good eye for setting up scenes where I rather enjoyed the contrast between the young and older Eric characters. Where this film let me down was the script. I found myself becoming bored through parts, after going from intense scenes to average ones and back. Having only seen one trailer for this picture, I imagined there would have been more dynamic emotions and energy on display. In my opinion the story warranted it. One need not have to relate to the subject matter to know there was a powerful story here. It just was not executed to its best advantage.
2 1/2 stars