Sons (Sønner)
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While on duty one afternoon, 25-year-old lifeguard Lars (Nils Jørgen Kaalstad) is shocked to see Hans (Henrik Mestad) swimming with the kids. Lars hasn’t seen Hans for years, but he’s still haunted by the stories of the things Hans used to do to young boys that Lars knew when he was a kid. Determined to get Hans banned from the pool, Lars goes to his boss, who refuses to do anything about it unless she has proof. So Lars leaves his lifeguard chair, borrows a video camera, and follows Hans as he drives away. What he witnesses doesn’t surprise him at all—and he manages to get Hans on tape with Tim (Mikkel Bratt Silset), a troublemaker from the pool.

Lars is fired for leaving the pool—but that doesn’t stop him from going after Hans. He begins by reaching out to help Tim while blackmailing Hans—but then he shows up at Hans’s flat and finds the computer where Hans stores all the pictures he’s taken of boys for more than a decade, and he knows he needs to do more. One of the boys whose pictures Lars finds is Joakim, who now works for the television news—and who reluctantly agrees to show Lars’s tape on the news. When he does, he claims it was made by a group that calls itself Anti Pedo Action—and within hours, the TV station is flooded with emails of support, as well as cries for help from other young boys. When Tim sees the emails, he decides it’s time to stand up and help other boys like him.

  
 
Though it’s not always easy to watch, due to its serious subject matter, Sons (or Sønner in its native Norwegian) isn’t as heavy as you might expect. For one thing, though it does have a few disturbing moments, it isn’t horribly graphic—because it has a strong focus on the characters, as opposed to the action itself. And it doesn’t hurt that the film was skillfully written. The story is moving and insightful, giving viewers a look inside the mind of a pedophile as well as those whose lives he touches. The film shows how Hans finds victims with little or no relationship with their father and takes them under his wing as his own “sons.” He takes care of them, feeding them and looking after them, all the while manipulating them and making them believe that they enjoy the time they spend with him. The film also shows the victims years later—some are angry, while others don’t even want to think about it, much less talk about it. And, finally, there’s Tim. Silset gives a powerfully convincing performance as the young boy who isn’t sure who to trust and what to believe. With a strong cast playing even stronger characters, Sons tells a gripping story that you won’t soon forget.


Ed. Note: For more on Sons, visit Sonner.no.

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