Best Movies by Farr

The King of Devil's Island

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What's it About

In Norway circa 1915, wayward boys are sent to a reform school on the remote island of Bastoy, where living and working conditions are harsh. Boys as young as eleven are punished for trivial crimes and sentenced to years of hard labor. Governor Bestyreren (Skarsgard) oversees the school but is blind to some of the cruelties that go on, especially at the hands of housemaster Brathen (Joner). A new boy named Erling (Helstad) arrives, and his rebellious spirit inspires the inmates to take matters into their own hands.

Why we love it

Bring a sweater to watch this frigid thriller, as your bones will be chilled by the starkly beautiful photography and clouds of cold breath coming off the screen. Holst, working from a true story, directs with a clear-eyed rigor; his characters steadily come into focus in this involving tale of captivity, abuse and escape. Young Helstad's powerful screen presence serves the story well, as Erling changes from a selfish loner into a symbol of comradeship. Skarsgard is equally strong as a likeable character whose heinous weaknesses are gradually revealed. For powerful drama and suspense, visit this "Island."

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"