APT PUPIL - 1998
USA: Rated R
This is the final harvest from Stephen King's book, DIFFERENT SEASONS and it ranks
up there with SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.
APT PUPIL is about a boy named Tod (Brad Renfro), so
fascinated by WWII's Nazi Germany, that he alone in his town recognizes
that Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander (Ian McKellen:
GODS AND MONSTERS, X-MEN, THE LORD OF THE RINGS) lives
there as well.
Kurt has been living in the United States under an assumed name since the 1960's.
Tod confronts Kurt and threatens to expose him unless the old Nazi does what he is told;
which is to tell the hair-raising true tales of the inhuman things he
did as a young, snot-nosed officer in the German military.
Kurt, now an old and very frightened man, complies. But Tod's demands grow, like
a junkie needing a bigger fix. He orders a Nazi costume uniform and makes
old Kurt wear it and march back and forth in his small house as Tod gives
the orders. It is fascinating to watch the bitter, reclusive Kurt jerked
around helplessly by the arrogant Tod. Larger things are afoot however,
as Tod begins to find himself affected by the stories Kurt tells. And
the old Nazi is no fool, he both hates and likes Tod and attempts to orchestrate
both his young pupil's victories as well as his defeats; stealing control away from the boy.
Director Brian Singer keeps the strings taut on both of his subjects and we keep
waiting for it all to snap. Is Kurt trying to turn Tod onto a better path?
Is the retelling of ancient history that the old man has hid for so long
revitalizing Kurt and turning him back into a monster?
The movie has so many good points, not the least of which is knowing when to stay
with King's story and when to leave it. About the only real gripe I had
is the haunting imagery that is used during the reminiscing and dreaming.
I would have liked to see a lot more of it.
David Schwimmer (WOLF, A DEADLY SILENCE [TV]) does a turn
as a friendly high school guidance counselor who gets caught up in Tod
and Kurt's dangerous game. His role is not much, but he adds an extra
needle to this very prickly movie. Once you watch it, it is hard to turn
away or give attention to anything else. Make sure you have all your popcorn
and drinks before APT PUPIL starts.
I give it 4 Shriek Girls
copyright 1998 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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