I saw Apt Pupil on Sunday night (10/25) and I was not disappointed. The film was very thought-provoking and truly told an intriguing tale of the nature of evil. The film was disturbing and definitely thrilling. Having not seen the whole Usual Suspects, I found out that Bryan Singer was a very talented director through the 101 minutes of Apt Pupil. Brad Renfro was at his best playing the role of the All-American high school student Todd Bowden. Renfro played the whole curiosity bit to perfection, bringing Todd's fascination of evil to life. And Ian McKellen was very powerful as the Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander. McKellen brings out the Nazi's true evil, despite the beginning of the film, when you think the old man may have reformed his ways and tried to put his past behind him. Truly chilling, Apt wastes no time getting into Todd's interest in World War II. I thought that perhaps the film would have developed Todd's All-American personality a bit at the beginning, but there wasn't a hammering home of the obvious. The movie was significantly different from Stephen King's 1982 novella, and I think the changes made the story a bit more realistic. The film starts off in 1984, when 16-year old Todd takes an interest in the startling horrors of the Holocaust. When Todd recognizes Dussander on a bus, he is suddenly mystified by the reality and closeness of the terrors of the Nazis. Even in his surburban Southern California town, evil is present. I had seen a number of parts from the film already and therefore I felt as if I knew what would happen. However, one very good thing was I did not know exactly how the film would end. The novella's ending was very dark, sick, and maybe a bit too over-the-edge, where the film's finish was more realistic, but just as disturbing. The scenes between Todd and Dussander are truly made of powerful acting at its best. Renfro and McKellen connect to the point where the scenes are tremendous. Soon, Todd's life is overcome with the stories he hears from Dussander; his normally high grades start to fall, he starts distancing himself from his peers, and he begins to be unable to escape the fears that Dussander has made so realistic in his life. Dussander tells Todd, "These things won't go away. Not for you." A chilling and telling scene comes when Todd is showering after basketball practice and soon all of his teammates are transformed in his head into old men who are in a gas shower chamber. Todd too is suffering at the hands of Dussander and it is a horrifying image. David Schwimmer, wearing a big thick mustache, comes across as a pretty nice guy. If a little corny, Schwimmer's Ed French character seems to really care for Todd. Schwimmer's performance as Todd's guidance counselor is very commendable. With probably the third largest role in a two main character film, Ed French is a memorable character despite his lack of screen time. At the end, I really felt sorry for the guy. While some said that Singer took too long to develop the relationship between the boy and the old man, I was entertained the whole time. In fact, it was a pretty short film for something of its dark nature; films like Apt Pupil tend to be longer. Bruce Davison is good as Todd's father, and Dawson's Creek's Joshua Jackson is great as Todd's best friend Joey. But all other characters aside, the story focuses on the clear-cut two main characters. They dominate the screen, in minutes and in acting. Both Renfro's and McKellen's performances were tremendous. The film can make the viewer truly frightened by the horrors of human nature. The music by John Ottman adds to the thick suspense in creating a true tale of evil. Apt Pupil was a really good movie and remains in the head of the viewer for quite a while after it ends. I left the theater feeling blown away by such a powerful movie.

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