Cruelty in a Norwegian boys' home has explosive results
Imagine a Cool Hand Luke that swaps out star-vehicle pleasures for gray Scandinavian suffering, and you'd have something like Marius Holst's prison drama set in 1915 Norway. Bestyreren (Skarsgaard) oversees an island prison where criminal youth are sent to be rehabilitated in a strict, frequently cruel environment: Beatings are commonplace, and teen convicts are referred to by numbers instead of names. Newcomer Erling (Helstad) is intent on escaping, and starts fanning the flames of rebellion in his fellow downtrodden inmates. His plan doesn't end well - the Norwegian army is called in - but the movie's glimpse of a life spark in these abused kids is both heartening and heartbreaking.