Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Movie Review: Låt den rätte komma in (2008) aka "Let the Right One In"

Låt den rätte komma in (2008) aka "Let the Right One In"
Director - Tomas Alfredson
Oskar - Kåre Hedebrant
Eli - Lina Leandersson

Let me say that this film is wonderful. It is dark and brooding and self-reflective, but not in a pompous way. Nor is it characteristic of what you might expect from a film with a plot centering on the lives of two children, each experiencing the torments of adolescence, though from, relatively speaking, views which are worlds and worlds apart.

It is a fairly common theme in movies to take the coming-of-age emotions of love and isolation and wanting and feelings of inadequacy and being needed, and to cram them into a box of 90 minutes and spit out the other side a formulaic tale of boy meets girl and goes to the dance. What director Tomas Alfredson has done is to take all those emotions and squeeze every bit of realism out of Oskar and Eli, a 12 year old boy and girl respectively played by Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson, and make we the viewers feel genuine sympathy for their situations. Each suffers as children often do who are in difficult home-life situations, and each struggles to find their self-identity. What they find in friendship is a comfort to one another they have never known.

Were I to stop writing at this point I’m not sure if you would want to see the film or not, but I guess I have left out an important plot component: Eli is a vampire. She tells Oskar she has been “About 12 years old for a very long time” and, judging by the lack of pigmentation and deep, dark circles surrounding her haunting eyes, we have no reason not to believe what she says. Oskar, bullied at school and a member of a family that does not really care for him, is able to see past this admitted flaw and the two begin a symbiotic relationship built on the trust that each has angst the other can and cannot understand.

I loved the storyline for this film. I was enamored by the sweeping scenes of snow-covered grounds and icy ponds and dark, dripping blood from time to time. Two more qualified actors would have been hard to find to portray such dense subject matter for the age group, and though it takes a leap of faith to believe in the topic, it does not take any such leap to believe in the acting abilities of these children.

The entire base of the film is rooted in mystical realism that I find fascinating, and I am surprised and a bit saddened that the film has not received more of a response in the USA. I believe an American re-make is in the works and I cringe at the thought of such a beautifully told tale (in subtitles if that matters to you) might be butchered. See this film and enjoy it as the piece of art for which it will most certainly be remembered.

***** out of 5

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