“Simon and the Oaks” is a Swedish coming-of-age story set in the city of Gothenberg. Presented with English subtitles, the film is an epic drama that spans 13 years, 1939 to 1952, and is told from the viewpoint of Simon (played as a child by Jonatan S. Wachter and as an adult by Bill Skarsgård).
Simon, the adopted son of a loving working class couple, always feels somewhat out of place with his family. A very bright and intellectual boy, Simon desperately wants to acquire the type of education that is normally reserved for the children of the professional classes. Although his father (Stefan Godicke), a boat maker, is worried that this will make Simon stuck up, he eventually agrees to enroll Simon in an upper-class grammar school. At this school Simon meets the Isak (played as a child by Karl Martin Eriksson and as an adult by Karl Linnertorp), a Jewish boy whose family has fled from Nazi Germany. Isak is the son of a wealthy Jewish bookseller, Ruben (Jan Josef Leifers).
Simon and Isak become good friends, and the two families eventually become intertwined. Simon is dazzled by Ruben’s world of books, art and music. Isak finds comfort in learning to work with his hands, helping Simon’s father makes boats. With World War II raging in the background, Simon helps Isak stand up to the anti-Jewish sentiment he is now facing at school. Then, when Isak starts to face problems at home, Simon’s family takes him in to help shield him from Nazi persecution. The two households gradually merge, connecting in very unexpected ways.
“Simon and the Oaks” provides a unique depiction of the situation of the Jews in Sweden during World War II. A beautiful film with striking cinematography, it offers a unique depiction of fate, destiny and free will.
“Simon and the Oaks” is based on the international best selling novel of the same name by Marianne Fredriksson. Directed by Lisa Ohlin based on a screenplay which she wrote, the film also stars Helen Sjöholm as Karin. The drama is scheduled for a limited release by Film Arcade in New York and Los Angeles on October 12, 2012.