Wednesday 19 August 2009

Review: Let The Right One In

Year: 2009 (Full U.K release)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Screenplay: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson

Vampires are big business again all of a sudden and I guess that's pretty cool. We've had Zombie films for ages so change is a good thing. Unfortunately, the most popular vampire tale being told at this moment is Twilight. A series with a soppy narrative, idiotic female characters (seriously that Bella character = Moron) and nurtured Vampires. While females from 8-30 enjoy that author's bizarre sexual fantasy (even the actors think it), it's really just not for me. Edward Cullen can stare into that dim-witted bints eyes for eternity, I like my vampires like Severen.

Which brings me to Let The Right One In, a vampire movie with balls..or not (people who know the story will get that). A film that is as ambiguous as it is beautiful, a film which believes in the idea of vampires connecting with humans but does nothing to take away their dark nature. No glittering skin here folks, it's blood on snow all the way.

But apart from the fact that a school kid begins a relationship with a vampire, LTROI doesn't share much of a connection with Twilight, in fact it has more in common with another Swedish made film; Lucas Moodysson's Lilja-4eva. Both deal with children from poor backgrounds and damaged family lives finding solace some an unexpected source. The similarities continue when both films show that the characters don't seem to be able to survive without each other, together the two halves make a complete whole. It is this emotional connection that is the strength of the movie, it's foundation is the assured direction from Tomas Alfredson, and it is built upon by two excellent display by it's child actors.

Alfredson's film is one that works best when it says nothing. It's dialogue is short and sharp and almost ineffective when compared to the movies images. Alfredson's direction of visuals is sublime, managing to put across character backgrounds and motivations quickly without having to resort to weak dialogue exposition. Alot of the images don't need dialouge to be compelling. I've never read the original novel, but in watching the film Alfredson manages to deleve into the lives of these people quickly and convincingly. After a brief skim of the novel's story you realise Alfredson's left quite a bit of the book out, but this in no way effects the film's appeal. In fact the film only make me want to read the original story more and how many adaptations do that?

Alfredson also coaxes two striking performances from the films leads. Kare Hedebrant is gives of the right air of innocence as Oskar, but it's Lina Leandersson's haunting portrayal of Eli that stands out. Ambiguous and complex, Leandersson's display is one that seems to show wisdom beyond her years while still holding an aspect of nativity about her. She's world weary and doesn't look a day over 12. The two are perfect for the film and maintain the cryptic motivations of their relationship until the end.

The film is not perfect, the music is far too obtrusive in a film that works best when quiet and certain subplots which are clearly more important in the book just don't sit comfortably with the rest of the film. But that's not the point, these are mere nitpicks of a film with a extremely raw emotional core.

The film is to be remade by Cloverfield's Matt Reeves and word has it that the U.S version will be made more "very accessible to a wider audience". This to me means spelt out to people would even bother to try and watch the original. I ask to myself whats the point (read: money) but as long as there's no glittering skin, it may be worth watching.