Todd Bowden (Renfro), a local high school senior, discovers that one of his neighbors is a Nazi war criminal and is living under the false name of Arthur Denker (McKellen). After confronting the old man using blackmail, Todd cuts a deal with him. In exchange for not turning him to the authorities, Denker must tell Todd detailed accounts about the Third Reich concentration camps. The two start meeting regularly, and the more stories Todd absorbs, the more it starts to affect his personality.
“Apt Pupil” is a late 90’s psychological thriller from the director of “The Usual Suspects (1995)”, Bryan Singer. The film is based on a story from a Stephen King novella collection titled “Different Seasons”.
The film stars Brad Renfro as the Nazi curious high schooler, and Ian McKellen as the Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander. Both actors were brilliant in this. Brad Renfro won an award for Best Actor at the Tokyo Film Festival and Ian McKellen took home Critics Choice Awards for Best Actor for their efforts on screen.
A psychological thriller that explores a high school seniors obsession with Nazism and the Holocaust. The film has a great plot and is accompanied by the great acting from both Ian McKellen and the late Brad Renfro. What this lacked for me really was a sense of brutality. For a film that plays with themes of Nazism, the audience is not stimulated and we don’t feel the usual hate synonymous with the sensitive topic. All in all though, this was an okay film. The blackmailing and psychological aspect of the film is enough to keep you guessing and entertained.