The King Of Devil’s Island Review

So, three harpoons go into a whale.

Not the typical opening to a worn out joke, but then The King Of Devil’s Island isn’t your typical film.

The year is 1915, the place is Norway and the weather is bitterly cold.

So far, so predictable.

A young man with a scousebrow come permascowl arrives by boat on a frozen island, but this isn’t a holiday retreat and the young man in question, Erling, is an alleged murderer.

His surrogate paterfamilias, Governor Bestyreren, greets his new cadet as he comes ashore before assuring him that his past and future are of no consequence while he is on his Island of Bastoy.

Of course, the governor’s word proves to be less teak tough and more cheap Ikea chip board.

The good christian practice being run on Bastoy encourages supposedly malcontent boys to change their recidivist ways and find God.

If only the housemasters in charge of said boys practiced a little of what they preached.

Still, they’re only being consistent with some other time honoured catholic priest practices and other good christian men in authority practice on vulnerable young boys in their charge.

As the Bastoy boys begin to unite behind the strength of their new comrade Erling, you feel sure a day of reckoning and repentance is coming for the morally bankrupt powers that be on the Island.

The King Of Devil’s Island is another of those coming of age tales about a group of young adolescent males who are no longer boys, but aren’t quite men yet either.

The only difference between this film and a slew of like-minded hollywood story about the same thing is this is based on a true story.

As is a lost boy’s general wont, all the young men on the island have gone off the rails, perhaps as a result the relatively fatherless environment of post WW1 Europe.

But, as is also the case with the younger generation, they’re more idealistic than their corrupted elders who are supposed to be setting the right example to them.

Stellan Skarsgard plays Governor Bestyreren, bringing some of his typical poise and menace to his role here, but it’s the young leads of Benjamin Halsted as Erling and Trond Nilsson as Olav who provide the heart of this film.

Playing the two strongest personalities in the boys’ camp, these inexperienced actors excel in their differing portrayals as their characters look past their differences to bond over to stand up against the ungodly authority on the island.

As for the punch line, well it’s a killer for the whale and The King Of Devil’s Island too.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

June 2012