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Evil (2003)

DVD Cover (Magnolia Pictures)
Genres:
Coming-Of-Age, Drama
Director:
Mikael Håfström Mikael Håfström
Starring:
Andreas Wilson Andreas Wilson
Henrik Lundström Henrik Lundström
Gustaf Skarsgård Gustaf Skarsgård
Linda Zilliacus Linda Zilliacus
Jesper Salén Jesper Salén

7.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: July 01, 2006
If a movie premiered three years ago but only received a (very limited) American theatrical run and DVD release this year, can I still label it as the movie of the year? If not, then I'll just suffice it to say that it's the best movie I've seen this year, hands down.

The movie centers around Erik Ponti (Andreas Wilson), a troubled young man with an abusive step-father and a violent temper. When he is expelled from high school for savagely beating a fellow student, his mother sells a few of her valuable heirlooms to send Erik to a militaristic boarding-school so that he'll have one last shot at graduating. He knows that if he is expelled from this school, then he will never be able to convince another school to take him in, and at that point, he might as well go find a nice cardboard box under a bridge to call home. With that knowledge in mind, he decides to grow up awful quick, go to this school, and do nothing but bust ass to graduate and stay out of trouble.

Then, he meets the senior members of this boarding-school. These students take great pleasure in making the lives of these freshmen as unbearable as possible, and when Erik refuses to do some of their humiliating "chores", they become hell-bent on making his life at this school as miserable as possible. Erik knows full well that he could dominate these bullies in a fight, but the rules of this school make it crystal clear that doing so would result in his immediate expulsion. Can this man - a man that was labeled "pure evil" by his former teacher - continue to avoid a violent confrontation with these bullies, even after their attacks become more painful and destructive? That is the question that this movie asks, and damned if the answer isn't satisfying.

First things first: the American DVD cover has a huge quote on the front claiming that this movie is "Fight Club in a boarding-school". That couldn't be further from the truth; while I understand that a quote like that would probably cause a few people to pick this DVD up and at least read the back of the case, the outright lie that is that quote is unforgivable. What's next: will the reissue of Schindler's List receive a quote on the front proclaiming that it's "The Matrix in Nazi Germany"? It would make about as much sense, in my humble opinion. My point in this paragraph is not to point out the idiocy of both whomever wrote that quote and Magnolia Pictures for using it, but to instead point out that this movie is nothing like Fight Club. Do not watch this (or avoid it, depending on your opinion of that film) based off of that quote.

What makes this film work so well is the storyline itself, and also the way that Erik is portrayed as the movie progresses. When the movie begins and you see how he is, you'll think that you fully realize why this movie was entitled "Evil" - but then, as it moves along, you'll find out that the title means something altogether different. Although he does have some problems controlling his violent temper, Erik does have a good side to him, and it doesn't take long before the audience gets behind him.

The storyline found within this film is beautiful. The main plot is as I described up above in the synopsis; we watch as Erik is beaten, humiliated, and hurt both physically and mentally, while doing his best not to lash out at his tormentors. Watching this becomes a test for the audience, because unlike similar bullying scenes in other films, we know that the victim is perfectly capable of easily defeating his antagonists - but to do so would mean that he'd lose everything. This storyline alone works out wonderfully and could have easily carried the entire movie, but there are also some other elements thrown in to better flesh out Erik's character. While at this school, he meets a fellow student named Pierre Tanguy (Henrik Lundström) who quickly becomes his first real friend. He also meets a school waitress named Marja (Linda Zilliacus), and this relationship provides Erik with his first taste of love. These two people play an important part in the movie in regards to how their relationships affect Erik's ultimate choices, but to say much more would spoil the movie.

This is worth a purchase. Don't go out and rent or download it, just head down to your favorite DVD shop or preferred online retailer and pick yourself up a copy. Not only is this a perfect film, but it's also very likely to wind up being my favorite movie of 2006. 10/10.
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Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #1: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 05/26/2007, 10:54 PM
It was great how well this movie handled its tension and drama. Each time as Erik would be struggling against resorting to violence, I was right there feeling infuriated and cursing those pompous bullies. When Erik's relationships were marred, I was there feeling his anguish. It's funny how much I was getting pissed off during this movie; damned if I didn't wish there was a deleted scene for the last confrontation with that one bully involving some bloodshed just for the good hell of it.
9/10
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