Apt Pupil

Bomb Rating: 

Presumably, director Bryan Singer has spent all the time since he made"The Usual Suspects" in 1995 looking for another project, then finding that project, then making said project. Here's my question: was this really the best he could do? "Apt Pupil" looks like it should have taken three months to make, not three full years.

The main problem with "Apt Pupil" is that it's, well, dull. Really dull. It also isn't very believable. The only reason the story moves forward at all is that Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro) blackmails a Nazi war criminal, Kurt Dussander (Ian McKellen), whom he discovers living in his neighborhood. Now, it would be one thing to blackmail the SS-prick for money or old war trinkets or photos of Hitler having sex with his mastiff, but Todd blackmails him for stories. He wants to old guy to give him all the details he isn't getting from his high school textbooks, which, since Todd goes to an American public school, were probably published before World War II began.

The manipulation gets to the point where Todd sits in Dussander's kitchen and orders the guy to dress up in an old uniform and march around the house. Just whom are we supposed to be rooting for anyway? Dussander certainly seems to be an unrepentant, evil bastard, so I'm not interested in him, but Todd isn't much better. He'd rather have this guy tell stories than hand his ass to Simon Weisenthal for some well-deserved bitch-slapping? I was hoping Dussander would leave his gas oven open while he was telling one of his stories to Todd, then light a cigarette with his little swastika Zippo.

Strangely, Singer tries to disconnect the film, historically-speaking, from the war itself, and focus on the psychological nature of evil instead. However, Singer got himself in big trouble for filming a little teenage boy booty during a shower scene that has its aesthetic defense in the idea that dehumanization was a vital part of Nazi psychological warfare. You can't have it both ways, Brian. Either you make a statement about the war and you get to film the ass, or you jettison your tush fetish and stick with your little amateurish horror film.

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