How does one stand out in a family of eccentrics? Ten-year-old Roland finds it hard to get a handhold on his identity since his parents — a Jewish mother and a socialist father — attract all the attention in the Swedish town where they live in the 1920s. Even his older brother is an odd bird; he's in training all the time to be a boxer. And for kicks, he breaks Roland's nose.

The proverbial outsider, Roland will take risks that no one else would even consider just to prove he's one of the boys. So his peers push him to the limit. A bigoted schoolmaster takes pleasure in singling him out for humiliation and punishment. In the midst of these troubles, Roland tries to follow his father's advice — "A revolutionary never shuts his eyes."

The Slingshot vividly portrays the amazing resiliency of this Swedish adolescent who valiantly tries to keep his soul intact while everyone and everything conspire against him. Director Åke Sandgren draws out a sturdy and sympathetic performance from Jesper Salén in the lead role. Roland tries to make the most of his entrepreneurial skills but even they backfire. He has fun making slingshots out of condoms until his mother discovers what he's done and puts an end to this scheme. In order to get a new bike, Roland paints old ones supplied by some nasty youth who take advantage of him.

Thomas Paine once wrote: "I admire those who can smile in times of trouble, who can gather strength from distress and who grow brave by reflection." In the end, Roland is heading off to a juvenile home for boys to serve a sentence for a crime he didn't commit. However, he's smiling with the secret knowledge that nothing can hurt him any more. He's learned to keep his eyes open and how to handle those who try to stifle his spirit. The Slingshot is a triumphant portrait of a soul survivor.