If the wistful freeze-frame at the end of this unremarkable, Oscar-nominated coming-of-age story set in 1950s Sweden is supposed to remind you of "The 400 Blows," good luck forgetting the 400 blows to the face that came before it.
When the bullying, fistfight-prone and recently expelled Erik (a brooding Andreas Wilson) is shipped off to an expensive boarding school, he comes face to face with the ritualized, tradition-bound brutality of senior boys toward underclassmen. Suddenly an untapped morality emerges — refusing to be goaded into violence, protecting his sensitive roommate (Henrik Lundström) à la James Dean toward Sal Mineo — but with punishing returns.
"Evil" covers territory that has been given queasily vivid and complicated life before in movies such as Volker Schlöndorff's "Young Törless" and Lindsay Anderson's "If . " But director Mikael Hafström's dramatic sense is so pedestrian and snail's-pace obvious — since this 2003 feature, he's made the leap to Hollywood with the plodding thriller "Derailed" — one starts biding time for the inevitable retributive smackdown that will save our hero from the gantlet of draggy high-mindedness about counteracting fascism with stony resolve. One imagines a credit page reading, "Dialogue by Gandhi, Punches by Eastwood."
— Robert Abele
"Evil" (Unrated) Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles. Exclusively at One Colorado Cinemas, 42 Miller Alley (inside plaza, Fair Oaks at Union Avenue), Pasadena (626) 744-1224; the Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A. (310) 477-5581.With a little help from their friendsMuch of Craig Chester's good-hearted love story "Adam & Steve" is silly and contrived, but the film boasts four engaging actors, including Chester. In 1987, a shy goth kid, Adam (Chester), and a go-go dancer, Steve (Malcolm Gets), meet at a Manhattan disco and experience a disastrously aborted one-night stand. Years later they cross paths and, not recognizing each other, fall in love. Crucial to their story are their best friends, Adam's pal Rhonda (Parker Posey), a comedian who has lost her inspiration, and Steve's cynical straight roommate Michael (Chris Kattan). Chester's humor is decidedly hit-and-miss, but he's a shameless heart-tugger.
— Kevin Thomas
"Adam & Steve" (Unrated) Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes. At Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd. (323) 848-3500; Playhouse, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena (626) 844-6500; University Town Center, 4245 Campus Drive, Irvine (949) 854-8818; Art, 2025 E. 4th St., Long Beach (562) 438-5435.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times