8:00 PM, 20th October, 2012
Devil's Island is actually Bastøy, which in the first half of last century was a harsh youth prison in Norway. The film is set in 1915 and begins with the arrival of Erling or 'C19' as he's known. Very strong bonds are created between the boys, particularly for Erling and Olav 'C1', as all of the boys come to terms with the harsh winter, even harsher treatment and the hated Housefather Braaten. The film goes on to tell the true story of the 1915 prison rebellion which resulted in the Norwegian army being summoned.
Although it's quite a long film (about two hours) the grey and exotic location creates a powerful character, which alongside the convincing performances from a largely unprofessional cast of young actors, means you don't really notice the time. This is a good example of when the truth is stranger than fiction so you feel drawn into this dark, crazy place. Particularly towards the end of the film which is dramatic, tragic and truly gripping. This isn't a mind-blowing experience in cinema terms, but it's a really well done film, and definitely worth seeing... unless you're in need of some cheering up in which case I'd suggest some chocolate and some re-runs of your favourite sitcom instead.
10:11 PM, 20th October, 2012
This is a deceptively simple movie. It tells the story of a young woman torn between two men, both of whom she loves deeply but in completely different ways.
The young woman is Camille (Créton) and when we first meet her she is fifteen, living with her parents in Paris and having an intense relationship with a teenage boy named Sullivan. We follow Camille through the passing of that relationship and the development of a new one with Norwegian architect Lorenz (Brekke), from employer/employee to casual acquaintances to emotional confidantes to lovers. But when Sullivan returns to the scene everything gets a lot more complex.
This film is about as far removed from a Hollywood romance as it can be. There isn't a snappy plot, manufactured linkages and warm-fuzzy closure in the end. Instead, the movie is less about drama and more about character. This means that for some people it may seem to be a little slow, but I guess that's precisely the way real life happens. If you are a fan of French cinema this is the perfect opportunity to don your beret, grab a croissant and get lost in the feelings of love - not the sentimental ones but those real life feelings of love where the shortest separation feels like forever and the slightest misunderstanding a catastrophe.