A teenager discovers one of his neighbors to be an ex-Nazi from the World War II death camps, and blackmails the man into telling him all about the atrocities that he committed.
It seemed as though the premise of this film had a certain amount of promise, but the film lacks any real suspense or action, doesn’t provide us with any real sympathetic characters to care about, but does offer some excellent acting performances by the main leads, Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro. The one thing they never really explain in this film, which surely lightened my intensity for it, was WHY the teenage kid wanted to hear all those awful stories? Did he get off on it? Was he as sick as the Nazi man himself? We are asked to commit to his plight solely on the fact that the kid is interested in the subject. I for one, would have liked a better background construction for the teenager, so that I could have appreciated his character on another level. As it was, I disliked his character even more than the ex-Nazi, and never really cared about the story, which didn’t provide for any real tension, save for the tacked on “incident” which occurs near the end. And what’s with all the homosexual undertones? Right over my head. You know something strange is going on in a film review, when I actually praise David Schwimmer for his role as well. Forgive me, father.
See it if the subject matter interests you, you like director Bryan Singer’s style, or you want to see some great acting performances from the two leads, otherwise there is no real reason to see this movie. For a much better story, greater performances and stronger characters, rent AMERICAN HISTORY X (9/10) instead.