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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Apt Pupil (1998)



Reviews and Comments

Apt Pupil, a film based on a Stephen King work, puts all its essence into the relationship between the two main characters, a high school student and an ex-Nazi living in the United States under an assumed name. The student finds out his secret and blackmails him. But not for money; he just wants the man to tell him stories about the war and the concentration camps. But this is a dangerous man who will not sit under the student's domination for longer than he has to.

On paper, it sounds like a great idea for a story. The subdued war for dominance in this tenuous relationship has excellent potential. But ultimately, this movie fails to pull it off, at least to a sufficient degree. I liked Ian McKellen's portrayal of the ex-Nazi, but Brad Renfro is less successful with his character. And it's not all his fault, either. The script forces some changes upon the character I simply didn't believe. It's that important, fundamental weak link in the movie that does the most to unravel the rest, too. Failing to accomplish what it set out to do, the movie has little if any purpose left.