Review: Apt Pupil

Blu-ray: Apt Pupil (1998)

When college student Tod Bowden (Brad Renfro) discovers that the old man Kurt Dussander (Ian McKellen) who lives nearby is in fact a Nazi war criminal, he confronts him with intentions to hear all of the grisly stories that his history tutors leave out.

Striking a deal ensuring that Tod will not call the authorities on Kurt so long as he tells him everything he wants to know, the tenuous threads of their relationship begin to untwine as Tod’s mental health is affected by the stories, making his demands on Kurt become ever more improper.

Overestimating the power that he has over Kurt, Tod soon finds out that you should never play mind games with someone as heinous as Kurt.

Adapted from the Stephen King novella of the same name, Apt Pupil works best if you are not familiar with the written version, as many of the things in the story would more than likely have never been allowed to make it onto the big screen. Having said that, Apt Pupil is still shocking and keeps you glued to the screen despite its often downbeat themes.

Ian McKellen’s transformation from frail, bourbon soaked old man, to intense (yet still bourbon soaked) revitalised Nazi soldier is superb. Subtle changes in posture and speech patterns all show what a fantastic actor he is.

Slow burning, yet with always enough happening to keep you on the edge of your seat, Apt Pupil is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.


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Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Umbrella Entertainment.